• Providing Care to Those at Risk

    “ Thank you all so very much for giving me my eye sight back so that I can do the thing I love most — see my husband, children, grandchildren and great–grandchildren. They are not a blur any more.”


    IMAGINE THAT YOU’RE A HEALTHY grandmother, but your eyes are giving in to age. You’re not able to enjoy the “little” things in life like you used to. If you don’t have insurance, what can you do? When grandmother Loretta Smith of Denver, Colo., found herself in this position, she contacted the Academy’s EyeCare America program. She learned that she qualified for an exam by a local volunteer ophthalmologist, and received treatment that returned her sight. “I can now see the pictures of my very first grandchild, and at my age, 82,” she said. “Thank you all.”


    With a mission to reduce blindness and visual impairment, EyeCare America raises awareness and facilitates access to medical eye care for underserved Americans. It has become one of the largest public service programs in American medicine. With major funding from the Academy Foundation and, for more than 30 years, the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, the program has helped more than 1.8 million people nationwide. In recognition of this significant contribution to society, President Barack Obama commemorated the program’s dedication in 2015 with the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

    The gracious service of our 6,000 participating ophthalmologists fuels the program’s success. These volunteers provide glaucoma or comprehensive eye exams, the latter of which may include care for up to one year, at no out-of-pocket cost for the doctor’s services. Their dedication to their communities gives qualifying older Americans a chance at a better quality of life. “It is always a gift to be able to give something back,” said Sebastian B. Heersink, MD. “EyeCare America has made it incredibly easy for me to volunteer.”

    EyeCare America has a powerful impact on patients’ lives. Casey S. is a cameraman in California. His livelihood depends on healthy sight in order to see the details required to do his job. He does not have insurance, but found that he qualified for an exam with one of EyeCare America’s volunteers. The doctor had disheartening news for a man in Casey’s line of work: he had a fully detached retina in his right eye. A successful surgery saved his sight and empowered him to continue a productive career.

    Interested in becoming an EyeCare America volunteer? Visit aao.org/eyecareamerica.