Optometry Cares ®—The AOA Foundation , in partnership with the Essilor Vision Foundation, launched a no-cost lens and lab services program for AOA members participating in the VISION USA program in Texas and Alabama. Unveiled in June, this trial model provides material and service support for VISION USA doctors to use when caring for their communities.
Since 1991, VISION USA providers have donated their services to help more than 430,000 low-income, uninsured individuals across 40 states and Washington, D.C., receive free, basic eye examinations. However, only Washington state and Ohio currently provide materials support. This new partnership ensures eligible patients, now in Texas and Alabama, also can receive free no-line bifocal and single vision lenses at the conclusion of their VISION USA exam.
Dana Cocké, O.D., VISION USA Committee chair, stops short of calling the initiative a pilot program, but acknowledges that the model could set the groundwork for a national rollout in the months ahead. Ultimately, Dr. Cocké says, the committee hopes this model would encourage more doctors to become VISION USA providers.
"I don't know why you wouldn't want to be a VISION USA provider," Dr. Cocké says. "It tells the whole community that we're here for you and we want to make a difference in these people's lives."
VISION USA is clearly tapping an unmet need in communities nationwide. Since the program's launch, volunteer doctors of optometry have made a significant difference in families' eye and vision health needs with notable milestones, including:
- 3,400+ community organizations referring patients for care or services.
- 45,000 calls received yearly at the VISION USA helpline.
- 95% of applicants have been diagnosed with an eye condition.
- 79% of applicants need glasses.
Vision USA providers making a difference
Philanthropically, VISION USA providers give back out of a sense of community involvement and a passion for making a difference. That's what this year's VISION USA Service Award honorees display: hard work and selfless volunteerism. But for all the providers currently making a difference, VISION USA encourages even more participation.
With the competitions officially underway July 23, the AOA is capitalizing on its partnership with surfer Caroline Marks and USA Surfing to raise awareness about the essentialness of regular, comprehensive eye care and vision health. Doctors of optometry can get involved with the See and Be Seen campaign.
An Education Week-hosted webinar, supported by AOA and industry partners, reinforced with parents and teachers the need for regular, pediatric eye care especially given the challenges of digital learning.
The deadline has been extended to Aug. 22 for submitting applications for presenting courses at Optometry’s Meeting® and other educational events. What is the AOA looking for in courses, workshops or other learning opportunities? Read on to learn more and submit an application.