A free eye exam might sound too good to be true. Vision care may seem expensive and confusing, but here’s a roundup of six free programs, and a comprehensive guide to using them, so you can get a free eye exam without breaking a sweat!
How to Get Free Eye Exams
These providers offer free eye exam programs:
EyeCare America is a program offered by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, operating through a network of over 5,500 volunteer ophthalmologists. These ophthalmologists allow the program to provide care completely free to participants.
The Seniors Program is for seniors 65 and older that are U.S. citizens or legal residents. To participate in the program, seniors cannot belong to an HMO or have vision care through the VA. Additionally, this program is for seniors that have not seen an ophthalmologist in three or more years.
The Glaucoma program is for those at an increased risk of glaucoma, determined by age (over 60), race (black, Asian, or Hispanic), and family history. Participants must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident, not belong to an HMO or receive vision benefits from the VA, and have not had an eye exam in over a year.
If you meet the requirements for either of these programs, fill out the form on the EyeCare America site here!
Lions Club with OneSight
Lions Club is a network of volunteers, serving their local communities by providing assistance with vision, diabetes, hunger, and more! Lions Club partners with OneSight, a nonprofit organization that provides vouchers for free eye exams and glasses.
Contact your local Lions Club and ask about assistance with vision care today!
Over 140 health care facilities provide free or reduced-cost care to their local communities through the Hill-Burton Program! If you meet the Federal Poverty Guidelines, find a Hill-Burton Facility near you (all facilities listed here) and apply for the program.
Call the facility, and ask to speak to the business administration office to apply to the Hill-Burton Program. Once you’re enrolled, you can receive a free eye exam at that facility!
Medicaid and CHIP
Does your child need an eye exam? It’s covered by Medicaid and CHIP through the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) program! Any child or teen enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP is eligible. During your child’s annual checkup, they should receive a vision test. If a problem is suspected, additional screening is covered.
InfantSEE is a program run through Optometry Cares – American Optometry Association (AOA). The AOA knows that babies need specialized exams to catch potential problems, so they offer free exams to any infant 6-12 months old, regardless of insurance coverage. Find a local optometrist participating in the program here!
VSP Global is a company that is passionate about providing everyone with high quality eye care. They offer four kinds of certificates to provide no-case eye care and glasses!
VSP Sight for Students Gift Certificate provides free eye care and glasses from a local optometrist. To receive this certificate, contact your child’s school nurse or your local Prevent Blindness affiliate (listed here).
VSP Eyes of Hope Full Coverage Certificate provides those in need with a free eye exam and glasses. To receive this certificate, contact your local Prevent Blindness affiliate (listed here), local community health center (find yours here), local Lions Club (find yours here), or local Unidos US affiliate (find yours here).
VSP Eyes Of Hope Materials Only Certificate provides free glasses for people who have coverage for an exam, but not for glasses. To receive this certificate, contact your local Prevent Blindness affiliate (listed here), local community health center (find yours here), local Lions Club (find yours here), or local Unidos US affiliate (find yours here).
VSP Eyes of Hope Disaster Relief Certificate provides those who are affected by disasters with free eye exams and free replacement glasses. To receive this certificate, contact your local American Red Cross chapter (find yours here).
Vision to Learn
Vision to Learn is a nonprofit that serves over 400 cities to provide free eye exams for children, right at their school. Vision to Learn partners directly with the school district to make the process as easy as possible. Vision to Learn also partners with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to provide eye care when school is on break. Find participating school districts and Boys & Girls Clubs here!
How to Get Affordable Eye Exams
There are a bevy of low cost options as well! Here are the best low-cost programs I’ve found:
VSP has been offering both high-quality and cost-effective vision care individual insurance plans since 1955. Most insurance plans, including Medicare, don’t include vision, so VSP offers individual plans for as low as $13 a month. Sign up for a plan here if this sounds like a good option for you!
America’s Best has long been a favorite of mine for low cost eye care. Buy one pair of glasses for $59.95, add a second pair for $10, and get a free eye exam! Some free eye exams don’t include glasses, and this low cost option includes two!
I hope this guide is helpful in getting you an eye exam. It’s an often overlooked part of healthcare, but it’s incredibly important. Do you have any tips? Let us know in the comments!