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 with a high risk of glaucoma.
VISION USA has offered free eye exams to low-income families and those who don’t have insurance for more than 10 years. While the program is not running right now, it will re-launch in 2019.
InfantSEE provides a free eye check-up for babies age 1 and under.
Lions Clubs International offers help paying for eye care through its local clubs — and some clubs may also provide eyeglasses.
New Eyes offers prescription eyeglasses to children and adults who are in need. You can’t sign up directly — you’ll need help from a professional, like a doctor or someone in a social services agency.
VSP Global’s Sight for Students program provides glasses to 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
While not focused specifically on eye health, these programs may help cover some vision care.
Medicare is a government health insurance program for people over age 65 and some people 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 high 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.