How to Score a Free Eye Exam
If you need new glasses or suspect you have an eye disease, contact one of these organizations to arrange for a free eye exam. Children's vision problems often go undiagnosed for years, so take advantage of programs designed to get kids the eye care they need.
The Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology sponsors a program called EyeCare America that provides free eye exams to qualified applicants. U.S. citizens and legal residents who haven't seen an ophthalmologist associated with the program in three years or more and who are 65 or over qualify not only for a free eye exam, but also for a year of free vision care for any disease diagnosed during the exam. In addition, uninsured patients who are at risk for glaucoma and who haven't had an eye exam in a year may receive a free glaucoma test.
Optometry Cares, the philanthropic foundation of the American Optometric Association, provides free eye exams for all infants less than 1 year old as part of the association's efforts to make sure children receive routine vision testing. The program has no income or insurance requirements.
Another program from Optometry Cares is Vision USA, which provides free eye exams to people who can't afford them and don't have vision care insurance. You typically apply for the free exams through social workers, case workers or charitable organizations.
Medicaid, the federal government's public health program for low-income U.S. citizens, provides free vision care, including eye exams, for children. Medicaid is available to families whose income falls below the federal poverty guidelines.
Lions Clubs International
Lions Clubs International helps people who need money for eye exams. Financial assistance is provided at the local level, so the best way to access this help is to find a local Lions Club and inquire about its vision care programs.
Sight for Students
Vision Service Plan, one of the primary vision care insurance companies in the United States, provides both free eye exams and free eyeglasses to students from low-income families. The company works with local organizations to find students in need, but qualified applicants can also contact the program directly.
Children's Health Insurance Program
The Children's Health Insurance Program provides affordable health insurance for families whose income levels are under approximately $49,000 per year as of 2015 and who have no other health insurance. As part of this program, children in most states are eligible for free eye exams.
If you need new glasses but can't afford an eye exam, every part of your daily life can be affected, including your ability to work, drive and read. Fortunately, several national and local programs are available to help you get free eye exams. In some cases, you may need to meet income or other requirements to qualify.