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How to get Free or Discounted Eye Care

Assistance With or 100% Free Eye Care:
Resources for discounted exams, glasses, contacts, surgery and more.

Are you in desperate need of an eye examination? Have you been wearing the same week long disposable contacts for much longer than any ophthalmologist would find appropriate by now? Did that very first pair of glasses from way back in your youth finally repel the super glue you’ve once again forced upon it? If this sounds familiar, it is pretty likely that you know you need an eye exam, and/or new contacts or glasses. And don’t feel ashamed, for more people find themselves in this type of situation than you might imagine. The eye doctors might scold you in attempt to scare you out of seriously damaging your eyeballs next time around, but they are aware that this sort of thing happens. Aware, mind you, but certainly not pleased. So then, they remain perturbed because taking care of our eyes should be one of our major priorities in everyday health care, and so many of us take that for granted. But they know the reason for this. You know the reason for this. And up until I was desperate for eye care myself a little bit ago and came across some great resources, I had a reason for the eye care neglect as well. And that is none other, of course, than a severe lack of medical insurance that will cover patients eye exam appointments and any accessories you shall need for your weepers. It is quite a shame, but what does one do when in a financial tight spot but wait to take care of such things as this until it becomes absolutely imperative to address.

However, this risk we put on what arguably may be are most precious sensory organs, can actually be prevented. No matter how poor your eyesight is, or what specific treatment you will need, there happens to be a large handful of companies out there who are willing to help you take care of it. Most of these groups consist of community action nonprofit groups with a vested interest in the aid of vision impairment or disabilities in general. Other resources include institutions that devote their time and hard work to the advancement and improvement of opthomalogical problems and diseases. Each group as is usually the case with medical assistance programs, may have varying eligibility requirements, but you will likely find that the individuals serving this community are full of information and kindness and should you for some reason not qualify for the particular program they represent, they may be the key to a whole slew of other good eye care assistance leads. Remember that when you contact the resources listed below, you should approach each interaction with gratitude and courtesy. The more friendly you seem, the more information the person on the other end will probably volunteer. So make sure to be extra polite, and always keep a pen and paper nearby so you can jot down any other references they give. And finally, don’t forget to ask for their name. It’s always helpful to have a contact to come back to if you have any further needs.

The following is a list of organizations and programs that may be able to help you finance your eye examination or opthomalogical accessories as referred by the National Eye Institute:

Eye Care America
1.800.222.EYES (3937)- lines open 24/7, 365 days
Eye Care America, a part of the American Academy of Ophthalmology was established in 1985 to educate the public through means such as advocacy campaigns and the distribution of free resources and informational materials on a wide variety of issues related to maintaining healthy vision. This organization primarily assists elderly individuals over the age of 65, but it is worth calling to inquire about eligibility if you are really badly in need of eye treatment. Their primary issue that drives them is the fact that so many unavoidable infections and diseases of the eye occur due to neglect or lack of education about eye care maintenance. They have, therefore several assistance programs and encourage patients to call their toll free hotline where they, after answering a series of questions, will possibly be placed in line for help through one of Eye Care America’s programs.

Some of the services they offer are:
1. Seniors Eye care Program (SEP)
Through this public service program, qualifying seniors are granted 100% free access to eye treatment for an entire year if, after an initial thorough exam, they are found to have some sort of problem or disease that requires ongoing treatment.
Typically, seniors who meet the following guidelines are eligible for this program:
Are US citizens or legal residents
Are age 65 and older
Have not seen an ophthalmologist in three or more years
Do not belong to an HMO or the VA

Vision USA
243 North Lindbergh Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63141
Fax: 314/991-4101
E-mail: visionusa@aoa.org
This organization is orchestrated by the American Optometric Association (AOA) to provide eye care for people and families of low-income employment. Interested individuals should email or contact the toll free number above for an application form. Also, see the following website for details on how to apply according to what state you live in. On this page there is also eligibility info. http://www.aoa.org/x5607.xml

Lions Club International
(630) 571-5466
The Lions Club International has local clubs all over the United States who each help low income families with eye care costs in different ways. Find your local Lion’s Club contact information and get in touch with them, or if you need assistance call the number above to reach the national office for the organization.

Mission Cataract USA
This organization, through the Volunteer Eye Surgeon’s Association choose one day out of the year to perform cataract surgery for people in need who have no other way to pay. The appointments are scheduled throughout the year at the number listed above.

Knights Templar Eye Foundation
5097 North Elston Avenue
Suite 100, Chicago, IL 60630-2460
Telephone: (773) 205-3838.
E-mail: ktef@knightstemplar.org.
Website: http://www.knightstemplar.org/ktef/
This organization provides eye surgery for those with a low income who need it. The only possible catch is that you may have to provide proof showing that you could not receive the assistance you needed to pay for this operation from the appropriate government sources or from other assistance programs.

Sight For Students
Sight For Students is a Vision Service Plan and Entertainment Industry Foundation that provides glasses and eye exams for free to children under the age of 18 whose families cannot afford the services or health insurance that will cover them.

New Eyes for the Needy
549 Millburn Avenue, P.O. Box 332
Short Hills, NJ 07078-0332
Telephone: (973) 376-4903
Last year they provided over 6800 eyeglasses for people in the United States. New Eyes for the Needy provides coupons for or free prescription eyeglasses for people who cannot afford to buy them otherwise. You will have to be responsible for taking care of your own eye exam and sending in your eyeglass prescription to this organization. To apply for assistance, go to the website above and select the link for “individuals needing assistance”. That should lead you to an application form, which you must fill out and send in along with a voucher (which you can get directly from their office or from a social service agency or school nurse) and recent prescription for eyeglasses. The application should be sent to the following address: New Eyes for the Needy, PO Box 332
Short Hills, and NJ 07078.

Infant SEE
(888) 396-EYES (3937).
The American Optometric Association and The Vision Care Institute of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. wants to help families detect eye problems in their children during the early stages where issues can be more easily worked with. This partnership program allows infants to receive an examination from a specialized eye doctor during their first year of age. An optometrist eye professional has the skills and tools needed to catch early eye problems that often times primary care physicians or generalized pediatricians do not have. See the above site for more information.

Give the Gift of Sight
An International program that donates money to individuals’ eye exams and overall eyesight costs. Individuals needing help from this program must obtain a referral from a local participating agency or organization. Some of these include: the Lions Club, United Way, and various school, clubs and churches. They also send their VisionVan around to communities all over North America to provide free eye care services to underprivileged youth. And finally, another of the many programs implemented by this Luxottica Group foundation is the infamous Sight Night. Sight night occurs on Halloween night and requires trick or treating children to go from house to house collecting used eyeglasses, which are then given to the Give the Gift of Sight foundation to recycle.

The Medicine Program
P.O. Box 4182
Poplar Bluff, MO 63902-4182
Telephone: (573) 996-7300
E-mail: help@themedicineprogram.com
Website: http://www.themedicineprogram.com
In cooperation with the patient’s doctor, one can obtain help from the Medicine Program in paying for prescriptions. If eligible, patients may be able to receive eye related or other prescriptions completely free of charge. Use the contact information listed above.

There are many places throughout the United States that provide free or discounted eye exams for individuals in need. Find your state on this website and read about its accompanying eye care program. http://www.neweyesfortheneedy.org/us/freeexams_states.html