Making a Difference in the Lives of Underserved Patients Nationwide
Christine Chapman knew something was seriously wrong when her vision suddenly started to fail. She found help with EyeCare America volunteer Julia Song, MD. Dr. Song diagnosed Christine with narrow-angle glaucoma and helped her get the urgent surgery she needed, ultimately saving her sight.
EyeCare America® volunteer Michael R. Feilmeier, MD, likely saved an elderly man’s life when the patient complained of partial vision loss. During a comprehensive medical eye examination, Dr. Feilmeier detected troubling signs of a blood clot in one of the patient’s eyes. He immediately sent the man to his primary care physician for an ultrasound, which revealed a large clot obstructing 95 percent of his left carotid artery. “Had this condition not been quickly diagnosed and treated, this patient would have had a major stroke,” said Dr. Feilmeier.
EyeCare America is a public service program of the Academy with a mission to reduce avoidable blindness and severe visual impairment, raise awareness about the importance of eye exams, and facilitate access to medical eye care for eligible older Americans. In just over 30 years, EyeCare America has grown to be one of the largest public service programs in American medicine, having helped nearly 2 million people nationwide attain sight-saving care and access educational eye health resources. In 2017 alone, EyeCare America referred more than 8,000 medically underserved seniors and others at increased risk for eye disease to a pool of more than 5,500 volunteer ophthalmologists.
The impact is clear — the program receives countless notes from grateful patients throughout the year. Joyce from Fayetteville, N.C. said, "For a person on a limited income, this service was very much needed. The doctor and his office staff were very caring and professional. Having diabetes and being uninsured, I really needed an eye exam. Thank you!”
EyeCare America’s successes are built on the backs of the Academy's community of member ophthalmologists who dedicate time from their busy schedules to come to the aid of those in need. These volunteers have the option to offer their services for multiple programs that provide either a glaucoma exam and/or a comprehensive eye exam, often at no out-of-pocket cost.
Make your own impact and become an EyeCare America volunteer today.
Dear Abby Advises Seniors to Get Exams
Abigail Van Buren spotlighted EyeCare America in her Oct. 2 Dear Abby column. In “Group Offers Eye Exams for Seniors in Need,” she emphasized that many diseases can be diagnosed early through a medical eye exam.