Like many who lost a job due to the coronavirus outbreak, William P. Wright also lost his health insurance. But unlike many, he needed health insurance to get a new job. Before he could apply for employment as a machinist or a forklift driver, he needed to renew his driver’s license. But he had just failed the vision test at the DMV.
It was time to seek out an eye exam, without the benefit of health insurance.
"When we first heard the price of an exam, we said we should just cancel,” said Wright’s wife, Simone. “We didn’t have that kind of money. We didn’t have health insurance. I was a stressed-out mess.”
She may have been stressed, but Simone did not give up. Scouring the Internet for help, she came across EyeCare America, a public health program offering free eye exams for qualified patients over the age of 65. William met all the criteria and was quickly referred to an ophthalmologist at a local eye clinic.
The examination revealed that William would need more than a new prescription for glasses. He had undergone cataract surgery years earlier, and was experiencing a common complication that can happen several years after surgery. It’s called a secondary cataract or posterior capsular opacification. Basically, the eye becomes cloudy again, blurring vision. It can be treated with a relatively simple, in-office procedure using a laser. Though the laser treatment wasn’t included with the free exam, the eye clinic worked with the Wrights to make sure William got the care he needed, regardless of their financial situation.
“We went in not expecting William’s eye to be fixed just yet. I actually went to sleep in the car, and when I woke up 40 minutes later William came back out and said, ‘I’m done. They did it.’ He could already see well enough to drive again,” said Simone. “This was truly lifechanging.”
Can EyeCare America help?
If the cost of an eye exam is a concern, the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeCare America program may be able to help. This national public service program provides eyecare through thousands of volunteer ophthalmologists for eligible seniors 65 and older, and those at increased risk for eye disease, mostly at no out-of-pocket cost to the patient. To see if you or someone you care for qualify, visit www.aao.org/eyecare-america.
William P. Wright