Financial Aid for Eye CareMany state and national resources regularly provide aid to people with vision problems. The National Eye Institute, which supports eye research, does not help individuals pay for eye care. However, if you are in need of financial aid to assess or treat an eye problem, you might contact one or more of the following programs.
The National Eye Care Project, coordinated by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), provides free and low-cost eye exams for U.S. citizens 65 and older who have not had access to an ophthalmologist in the past three years. Telephone: 1-800-222-EYES
VISION USA, coordinated by the American Optometric Association (AOA), provides free eye care to uninsured, low-income workers and their families. Screening for the program takes place only during January of each year, with exams provided later in the year. Telephone: 1-800-766-4466
Lions Clubs International provides financial assistance to individuals for eye care through local clubs. There are Lions Clubs in most localities, and services vary from club to club. Check your telephone book for the telephone number and address of your local club. The telephone number for the national office is (630) 571-5466.
Mission Cataract USA, coordinated by the Volunteer Eye Surgeons' Association, is a program providing free cataract surgery to people of all ages who have no other means to pay. Surgeries are scheduled annually on one day, usually in May. Telephone: 1-800-343-7265
Celebrate Sight: Do You Know Your Glaucoma Risk? coordinated by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is a program offering free examinations and treatment for glaucoma to people who do not have medical insurance. Telephone: 1-800-391-EYES
The Medicine Program assists people to enroll in one or more of the many patient assistance programs that provide prescription medicine free-of-charge to those in need. Patients must meet the sponsor's criteria. The program is conducted in cooperation with the patient's doctor. Mailing Address: P.O. Box 4182, Poplar Bluff, MO 63902-4182. Telephone: (573) 996-7300. E-mail: [email protected]. Website: http://www.themedicineprogram.com .
Sight for Students, a Vision Service Plan (VSP) program in partnership with The Entertainment Industry Foundation, provides eye exams and glasses to children 18 years and younger whose families cannot afford vision care. Telephone: 1-888-290-4964. Website: http://www.sightforstudents.org.
You may also contact a social worker at a local hospital or other community agency. Social workers often are knowledgeable about community resources that can help people facing financial and medical problems.