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  • Enabling More Than 12,000 Underserved Seniors To Receive Eye Care

    In 2015, the Academy’s EyeCare America program celebrated 30 years of public service. With a mission to reduce avoidable blindness and severe visual impairment, the program raises awareness about the importance of eye exams and facilitates access to medical eye care for qualifying older Americans. In 2015, EyeCare America referred 12,348 medically underserved seniors and others at risk for eye disease to its pool of nearly 6,000 dedicated volunteer ophthalmologists.

    Sally Gordon expresses her gratitude to EyeCare America volunteer Sebastian Heersink, MD. Watch the video at

    EyeCare America volunteers do far more than correct blurry vision: They enable people to lead more enjoyable, productive lives. The program receives notes from grateful patients throughout the year. Mr. Ahia, from Philadelphia, Ill., wrote, “This is a fantastic program. Please accept my sincere and heartfelt thanks for taking the time to attend to my needs. It might have represented a small effort on your part, you might be tempted to think, but for me it represented a giant stride toward better vision and a clearer sight.”

    Since its inception in 1985, EyeCare America has become one of the largest public service programs in American medicine. With major funding from the Academy Foundation and the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, the program has helped more than 1.8 million people nationwide in the past 30 years. In recognition of this significant contribution to society, EyeCare America received the President’s Volunteer Service Award. President Barack H. Obama wrote, “Thank you for your devotion to service and for doing all you can to shape a better tomorrow for our great nation.”

    At AAO 2015, 19 young ophthalmologists enrolled to carry on this tradition of community service. Volunteer John P. Berdahl, MD, said “EyeCare America is a great way for young ophthalmologists to become invested in new communities. The program does a great job of handling logistics and making volunteering easy.”

    In honor of its 30th anniversary, EyeCare America hosted a reception at AAO 2015 for volunteers, several of whom have been active with the program since its inception. Nearly 100 physicians attended the event — a rare opportunity to meet their fellow volunteers.