AOA Foundation fund provides relief for doctors of optometry after disasters

December 5, 2018
Since Optometry’s Fund for Disaster Relief began in 2005, nearly $1 million has been dispensed to doctors and students.
AOA Foundation fund provides relief for doctors of optometry after disasters

The Sept. 24 letter, by Kyle Eaton, O.D., who practices in North Carolina to Optometry Cares ®—The AOA Foundation , provides a snapshot of the stress doctors experience when a disaster hits.

Dr. Eaton, who had weathered previous hurricanes in 1999 and 2016, was jolted by another in September 2018: Hurricane Florence. Upon arriving at his practice, he found water-soaked carpet and floating debris inside. "It was the first time I ever felt utterly numb and at a loss," said Dr. Eaton, facing long waiting lists by overwhelmed water restoration and construction contractors.

Shortly thereafter, the doctor of optometry applied for and received a grant from Optometry's Fund for Disaster Relief (OFDR), a program of the foundation.

"The grant from Optometry Cares is helping to ease the burden," Dr. Eaton concludes in his letter. "Once we're back on our feet, I will certainly begin donating to this worthy organization in hopes of giving back and helping to provide relief to other optometrists who experience events such as Hurricane Florence.

"Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."

Making a difference

To date in 2018, OFDR has awarded about $32,000 to 14 doctors of optometry who experienced the fires in California and floods in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and South Carolina.

OFDR, created to help doctors of optometry in the wake of 2005's Hurricane Katrina, aids doctors of optometry whose practices have been physically damaged, which hampers their ability to serve patients and generate revenue. The fund, sustained by donations, has been generously supported in 2018 by Essilor of America and CooperVision. It has awarded about $990,000 since it started and has helped more than 500 applicants.

OFDR Chair Catherine Amos, O.D., called the optometric community a small but close-knit family willing to help their colleagues, especially during times of disaster. Applicants can receive grants up to $4,000 each.

"After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the Optometry Cares Board wanted to try and provide assistance to our optometric families in the wake of this natural disaster," Dr. Amos says. "The board's idea was to give monetary assistance to doctors who had lost or suffered damages to their offices or homes.

"The solution was an expedited way to assist the doctors in their time of need with a quick application process," she adds. "When approved, doctors of optometry can receive grant monies without having to wait on insurance claims to be processed. Many of our doctors, who have received grant dollars, went months without being able to open their offices or live in their homes. The long, arduous process of filing insurance claims, working with FEMA and getting bids for construction can be very overwhelming. I would like to think we were able to give assistance to doctors, so they could make it through this process and become whole again."

Make a difference today

Optometry Cares is committed to helping doctors of optometry provide vision and eye health care, whether through Optometry's Fund for Disaster Relief, the Healthy Eyes Healthy Children Community Grant ProgramInfantSEE ®, student scholarships, public education or preserving optometry's history.

To make a difference today, donate to Optometry Cares—The AOA Foundation to help support this and other vision care programs in your end-of-year giving.

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