Eye care and glasses can be expensive. And even if you have health insurance, it may not include vision coverage. The good news is that lots of programs offer help, like free or low-cost eye exams and eyeglasses.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to apply to get help from these programs — and many programs have specific requirements, like having a low income or being at higher risk for certain eye diseases.

For eye exams and eye care

EyeCare America offers free comprehensive eye exams — and up to 1 year of care — to people age 65 and older and to people at higher risk of glaucoma.

InfantSEE offers free eye check-ups for babies ages 6 to 12 months.

Lions Clubs International offers help paying for eye care through its local clubs — and some clubs may also provide eyeglasses.

For eyeglasses

New Eyes offers prescription eyeglasses to children and adults who can’t afford them. To sign up, you’ll need help from a professional, like a doctor or someone in a social services agency.

VSP Global’s Eyes of Hope and Sight for Students programs provide glasses to adults and children from low-income families without insurance. To qualify, you need to work with a community partner, like a school.

For cataract surgery

Mission Cataract USA offers free cataract surgery to people of all ages who can’t afford it.

Operation Sight helps people with low incomes get cataract surgery.

Other programs that may help

These health care programs may also help cover some vision care.

Medicare is a government health insurance program for people age 65 and older and some people younger than age 65 with disabilities. It doesn’t cover eye exams or tests for most people, but it may cover some eye care if you have diabetes, macular degeneration, or a higher risk of glaucoma. Some Medicare Advantage plans may also offer vision coverage.

Medicaid and CHIP are government programs that offer free or low-cost health insurance for children in families with low incomes.

Prescription drug assistance programs can help with the cost of prescription medicines — including medicines for eye conditions. Learn about your options from these sites:


Last updated: May 19, 2021