• Enhancing Lives With Compassionate Care

    Betty White of Biggs, Okla., had cataracts that severely limited her vision. Glasses no longer helped and she was unable to participate in her favorite pastimes such as gardening or playing the piano. Thanks to EyeCare America volunteer Ryan P. Conley, MD, joy has returned to Betty’s life. She’s pictured here with her son and grandson. 

    In 2017, more than 8,000 patients — medically underserved seniors and others at increased risk for eye disease — were referred to EyeCare America® volunteers. Betty White was one of them. She desperately needed eye care, but on her limited income thought she couldn’t afford it.

    Betty worked hard all her life on rotating shifts in factories. Because of sun damage when she was 13, she’s always depended on eyeglasses to get around. But recently her vision became much worse. She could no longer putter in her garden or see the keys to play the piano. Everything she did was limited.

    “Every extra penny I have goes to paying bills and just getting by,” Betty said. “I had nothing extra to pay for an eye exam, let alone follow-up care.” Then her niece found EyeCare America.

    “They made the process easy. Dr. Conley was amazing. He restored my sight by removing cataracts. I’m now back to playing the piano, gardening and having fun with my family. I still can’t get used to not reaching for my eyeglasses. Thank you, EyeCare America, for caring about people like me.”

    More than 5,500 ophthalmologists such as Ryan P. Conley, MD, volunteer to help patients like Betty by offering a comprehensive eye exam and care for eligible seniors, often at no out-of-pocket cost, or a glaucoma exam for those eligible under the glaucoma program. Since 1985, EyeCare America has become one of the largest public service programs in American medicine — and a recurring favorite of the Dear Abby advice column, which recommended the program again last year.

    This critical work is supported by the Foundation and has received major funding for more than 20 years from the Knights Templar Eye Foundation.

    Thanks to your dedicated volunteer service, EyeCare America is able to raise awareness about the importance of eye exams and connect sight-saving care to those who need a little assistance along the way, like Betty. The program has helped nearly 2 million people already — and its effects are reaching further each day. 

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