Eye care program offers free examsWritten by Tony Gonzalez | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Citing 14,000 seniors helped in Ohio since 1985, the Seniors EyeCare Program continues to offer free eye exams for Toledo seniors.
Fifteen ophthalmologists volunteer through EyeCare America to offer exams for no out-of-pocket cost to Toledo seniors. But EyeCare America Communications Manager Allison Neves said the program is underused in Toledo.
James Ravin, a Toledo ophthalmologist, has volunteered with the program and said he has seen approximately a dozen seniors per year.
“It’s a nice thing for seniors,” Ravin said. “If the insurance covers them, fine — if not, it’s a freebie.
“People may be suspicious as to the real motivation, but there is no other motivation except trying to be of service,” Ravin said.
SEP screens callers to determine eligibility. SEP participants should be legal citizens age 65 or older, cannot belong to an HMO or receive benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and cannot have seen an ophthalmologist in three or more years.
Ravin said many eye diseases are more common as people age, and although some factors are hereditary, age affects the seriousness of diseases.
“Some of them can lead to permanent blindness,” Ravin said. “Since these are treatable, the earlier the better.”
According to EyeCare America, one in three Americans has some form of vision-impairing eye disease by age 65. SEP promotes annual, dilated-eye exams.
Columbus Senator Bob Schuler backed the program in a guest column in The Community Press in Cincinnati.
“My column was to be helpful and get the word out,” Schuler said in a phone interview. “Just from a personal standpoint, I’ve seen how eye problems affect the elderly. My parents both had their eyes operated on to maintain their vision. It’s such an important part of people’s lives.”
EyeCare America is a public service foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The project was formerly known as the National Eye Care Project.
Eyeglasses, prescription drugs, hospital services and fees of other medical professionals are excluded from the program, although Ravin said ophthalmologists can connect patients to pharmaceutical companies that may donate medicines.
For more information visit www.eyecareamerica.org or call 800-222-3927 for a free eligibility assessment.