Many people do not seek out eye care because they are not able to afford it. Over the past four years, the national uninsured rate has gone down approximately five percent. Even so, there are people who do not get routine eye exams or other eye procedures because of the costs involved. In light of this, we’ve compiled a few resources to help people get the access to the eye care they need.
Eye Exams and Surgery
EyeCare America — This is a service of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). It provides eye exams and care for up to a year, many times without having to pay out of pocket expenses to eligible persons 65 and older. There is also a program for glaucoma care and children’s eye care. For more information, call 1-877-887-6327 or visit the website: http://eyecareamerica.org.
VISION USA — This is a service of the American Optometric Association (AOA). This provides free eye care to uninsured persons and their families who meet eligibility requirements. For more information, call 1-800-766-4466 or go to the website: http://www.aoa.org/visionusa.xml.
Mission Cataract USA — This provides free cataract surgery to those who have no means to pay. To learn more go to: http://www.missioncataractUSA.org.
InfantSEE® — Member optometrists provide eye exams and vision assessments for infants during the first year, regardless of a family’s income or access to insurance. For more information, call 1-888-396-3937 or visit the website: http://www.infantsee.org.
Sight for Students — This is run by Vision Service Plan (VSP) and it provides free eye exams and glasses to qualified uninsured children under the age of 18. To learn more call 1-888-290-4964 or go to: http://www.sightforstudents.org.
New Eyes for the Needy — This program provides vouchers for new prescription eyeglasses. To learn more, visit the website: http://www.neweyesfortheneedy.org.
NeedyMeds — This is a datebase of medications that can be acquired at low cost (or for free) by uninsured, low income patients. For more information, go to: http://www.needymeds.org.
Partnership for Prescription Assistance — This program is funded by pharmaceutical companies. It offers a single point of access to more than 475 public and private patient assistance programs. To learn more, call 1-888-477-2669 or visit the website: https://www.pparx.org.
Patient Access Network — For those that have Age-Related Macular Degeneration, this helps eligible underinsured patients afford the copayments for pharmaceutical treatment. For more information call 1-866-316-7263 or go the website: http://www.panfoundation.org.
Federal, State, and Local Government Programs
Medicare Benefit for Diabetic Eye Exams — Those who are covered by Medicare and are living with diabetes can get a dilated eye exam to check for diabetic eye disease. Your doctor will decide how often you need this exam.
Medicare Benefit for Glaucoma Eye Exams — For those with diabetes and a family history of glaucoma, Medicare will pay for an eye exam to check for glaucoma once every 12 months. Patients must pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount after the yearly Part B deductible. To learn more about the diabetes and glaucoma Medicare benefits call 1-800-633-4227 or visit the website: http://www.medicare.gov.
State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) — Most states have insurance for children 18 years and younger for little or no cost. This insurance pays for doctor visits, prescription medicines, hospitalizations, and more. For more information, call 1-877-543-7669 or visit the website: http://www.insurekidsnow.gov.
Resources like these can help many people get the eye care that they need, so share this information with patients. No one should have to go without eye care due to cost.