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EyeCare America Kicks Off Seeing is Living Campaign

EyeCare America Kicks Off National Campaign in New York City to Encourage Hispanic Seniors 65 and Over to Get an Eye Exam to Prevent Vision Loss

Seniors EyeCare Program Offers Free Eye Exams and One Year of Care to Qualifying Seniors

New York, NY (September 15, 2008) - EyeCare America’s Seniors EyeCare Program is launching Ver es Vivir (Seeing is Living), a national public awareness campaign to educate Hispanic seniors about the importance of regular eye examinations to prevent vision-impairing diseases. The campaign will launch at a kick-off event hosted by the Hispanic Federation on Monday, September 22nd from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. The Hispanic Federation is located at 55 Exchange Place on the 5th Floor in New York City.  Media is invited to attend. 

In support of Ver es Vivir Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor David Patterson have declared September 22nd, Ver es Vivir Day in the City and State of New York.  Ver es Vivir is also being supported by several community organizations that serve the Hispanic community including the Manhattan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the New York City Department of Aging, N.E.T.S Inc., United Way of New York City, the National Association for Hispanic Elderly and the New York State Ophthalmological Society.

"I commend EyeCare America for bringing this vital healthcare message to Hispanics in New York,” said Governor of New York, David Paterson. “Thanks to the Seniors EyeCare Program, all qualifying New York residents can access medical eye care."

The year-long campaign will work with community organizations and the media to raise Hispanics’ awareness of risk factors by providing educational materials, and facilitating access to eye examinations often at no out-of-pocket cost. Individuals are asked to call 1-800-222-EYES (3937), to determine if they are eligible to receive a referral for a free eye exam and care. The help line is available in English, 24 hours a day, every day, year round. Spanish language is available 8am-7pm (CST), Monday - Friday.

“Many Hispanic seniors don’t realize that an annual eye exam with an ophthalmologist can help detect vision-impairing diseases,” said Rene Rodriguez-Sains, MD, EyeCare America volunteer ophthalmologist. Ver es Vivir aims to educate individuals about how earlier detection can help prevent vision loss.”

Vision-impairing diseases affect one in three Americans over the age of 65. Unfortunately, most do not know it because there are often no warning symptoms or they assume that their poor sight is a natural part of growing older. Additionally, The National Americans Eye Health and Eye Disease Survey found that 76 percent of Hispanics did not know that their ethnicity was a risk factor for vision loss and blindness.

One of the major barriers to receiving quality eye care, especially for seniors, is being able to afford the co-pay cost for a medical eye exam. EyeCare America’s Seniors EyeCare Program provides a complete medical eye exam and care for any disease diagnosed for up to one year often at no out-of-pocket cost to the patient.   To qualify for EyeCare America’s Seniors EyeCare Program, you must be a U.S. citizen or legal residents, age 65 and older, have not  have had an eye exam by an ophthalmologist in three or more years and not belong to an HMO or the VA.  Eligible candidates will receive a referral to one of EyeCare America’s 7,000 volunteer ophthalmologists. Seniors EyeCare Program volunteer ophthalmologists across the United States agree to see patients at no out-of-pocket cost by accepting Medicare and other insurance as payment in full. Individuals without insurance are seen at no charge.

About EyeCare America

Established in 1985, EyeCare America, the public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is committed to the preservation of sight, accomplishing its mission through public service and education.  EyeCare America provides eye care services to the medically underserved and for those at increased risk for eye disease through its corps of 7,000 volunteer ophthalmologists dedicated to serving their communities.  More than 90 percent of the care made available is provided at no out-of-pocket cost to the patients.  EyeCare America includes programs for seniors, glaucoma, AMD, diabetes and children, and is the largest program of its kind in American medicine.  Since its inception, EyeCare America has helped more than 1 million people nationwide receive the sight saving resources they need. EyeCare America is a non-profit program whose success is made possible through charitable contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations.  More information can be found at: www.eyecareamerica.org

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