As temperatures heat up Prevent Blindness Iowa wants to make sure it is a safe summer for children and adults. Fireworks were involved in an estimated 8,700 injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2012. Each year hospital emergency rooms treat approximately 33,000 sports related eye injuries - almost all are preventable. Forty percent of all sports-related eye injuries are to kids age 14 and younger. Many people suffered damage to their eyes from harmful UV rays. Prevent Blindness Iowa (PBI) urges people to be aware of the risks to their vision from fireworks, sports and UV rays this summer.

Because of the importance of protecting your eyes from fireworks, sports injuries and UV rays, Prevent Blindness Iowa, Hy-Vee, Inc., and Wolfe Eye Clinic are pleased to announce the seventeenth annual Light the Night for Sight Walk, an event that celebrates sight and emphasizes safe ways to celebrate the Fourth of July and summer. The walk will take place Thursday, June 19th, 2014 at 7:30 p.m., with registration beginning at 6:15 p.m., at the Johnston Library in conjunction with Johnston Green Days.

The walk will be led by five year old Sawyer Hess and his family from Urbandale. Sawyer is the 2014 Light the Night for Sight Youth Ambassador. Sawyer is a typical five year old – he plays soccer, is starting tee ball soon and got a new bike for his birthday. However Sawyer has a vision problem that could have impacted his ability to do all those fun activities.

Sawyer was only one year old when his mom, Jenny, noticed that his eyes didn’t seem quite right.  Jenny made an appointment with an eye doctor who diagnosed Sawyer with amblyopia and hyperopia (farsighted). Amblyopia or lazy eye is a sight stealing disease where one eye is stronger than the other. The weak eye eventually stops working and permanent sight is lost. Sawyer has been wearing glasses ever since and also wore a patch for two hours a day to strengthen his weak eye. 

Sawyer’s vision problem has also impacted his learning. Sawyer, his family and his pre-school teachers have been working hard to improve his academic skills. His mother Jenny says that if his vision problem hadn’t been detected at an early age Sawyer’s learning would be even more delayed. Sawyer is now on target to begin kindergarten in the fall!

Donations to Light the Night for Sight will help to fund Prevent Blindness Iowa’s sight saving programs, including children and adult vision screening, free eye exams and eyeglasses for low-income children and adults, public education and research. The event is free; however walkers raising $100 will receive a glow-in-the-dark t-shirt. To walk or volunteer at Prevent Blindness Iowa’s Light the Night for Sight Walk or for more information on summer eye health and safety please call (515) 244-4341 or visit