More than three million people in the United States are blind or visually impaired according to the National Eye Institute (NEI). In addition to the unimaginable personal and emotional toll blindness causes, individuals, their families and loved ones, the current cost in lost tax income and benefits resulting from blindness and vision impairment is a staggering $67 billion dollars per year in the U.S. alone.
Due to the rapidly changing population of the United States, affected by an aging baby-boomer generation, a growing number of minority citizens and the sudden increase of diabetes, the NEI estimates that unless immediate high quality and cost-effective eye care is implemented, the number of people who suffer from eye disease will reach more than 30 million people by the year 2020.
About EyeCare AmericaEyeCare America, the public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, provides eye care to medically underserved seniors and those who are at increased risk for eye disease.
Our mission is to prevent avoidable blindness and severe visual impairment by raising awareness, providing education and facilitating eye care for the public. Since its inception in 1985, EyeCare America has helped more than one million people through the services of 7,000 volunteer ophthalmologists (Eye M.D.s) nationwide. More than 90 percent of the care provided is at no out-of-pocket cost to the patient.
To determine your eligibility for a referral to an EyeCare America volunteer Eye M.D., visit our Online Referral Center at www.eyecareamerica.org. The referral center is also a convenient way for friends, family members, social services and non-profit volunteers to find out if their loved ones or clients are eligible.
Referrals are provided to U.S. citizens and legal residents who are without an Eye M.D. and do not belong to an HMO or already have eye care through the Veteran's Administration.
To be eligible for the program, an individual should fall into one of the two categories below:
1. Those who are age 65 or older and have not seen an Eye M.D. in three or more years. These patients may be eligible to receive a comprehensive medical eye exam and up to one year of care at no out-of-pocket cost for any disease diagnosed during the initial exam. Volunteer ophthalmologists will waive co-payments and unmet deductibles, and accept Medicare and/or other insurance reimbursement as payment in full. Patients without insurance receive this care at no charge.
2. Those determined to be at increased risk for glaucoma (by age, race and family history) and have not had an eye exam in 12 months or more. These patients may be eligible to receive a free glaucoma eye exam if they are uninsured. Those who are eligible and covered by insurance will be billed for the exam and are responsible for any co-payments. The initiation of treatment is provided if deemed necessary by the doctor during the exam.
Whether or not you are eligible for a referral, www.eyecareamerica.org also offers free brochures, resources and medication assistance information.