Like so many aspects of our health, it’s common to develop problems with vision as we get older. Unfortunately, many older people also have less access to insurance and therefore less access to vision care. A program called EyeCare America which is sponsored by the American Academy of Ophthalmology is designed to help by offering free eye exams to seniors who don’t have insurance.
• U.S. citizen or legal resident
• 65 years or older
• Has not seen an ophthalmologist (eye M.D.) in three or more years
• Does not belong to an insurance HMO or have eye care coverage through the Veterans Administration.
How it works:
• Patients check with EyeCare America to find out if they qualify.
• EyeCare America provides a referral to a nearby, volunteer Ophthalmologist who agrees to waive insurance co-payments and takes Medicare or other insurance payments as full payment for the service. Patients who have no insurance at all are not charged.
• Patient may be eligible for a comprehensive eye exam and up to one year of vision care with no out-of-pocket costs for any eye disease that is diagnosed during the first eye exam.
• Patients who are at higher risk for glaucoma and have not had a glaucoma check in the last year may receive a free glaucoma eye exam if they do not have insurance. Patients with insurance will need to pay the insurance co-payment to receive this exam.
What is not covered:
• Some services that may be required for eye care treatment including hospital fees, surgery center fees, anesthesiologist fees, and costs for medications are not covered.
• Eye glasses are not covered. This includes the part of the eye exam to prescribe glasses (refraction), the actual prescription for glasses, and the actual eye glasses.
To find out whether you qualify for this free eye care service, visit the EyeCare America website for referral guides in English or Spanish, or call them toll free at 1-800-222-EYES (3937).