Free Glasses for Low-Income People: Where to Find Them

Buying prescription eyeglasses is expensive, and it’s even more difficult if you’re on a fixed budget or don’t have vision insurance coverage.

Thankfully, there are some ways to find free eyeglasses for low-income families so that you and your loved ones can see more clearly.

Read on to learn more about finding the best low-income eye care and how to get your next pair of eyeglasses for free or at a meager cost.

Eye Exams For Infants

If you want to check on your baby’s eye health, there’s a public health program that can help. The American Optometric Association sponsors the InfantSEE program. They received funding through Optometry Cares – The AOA Foundation, which provides charitable donations.

Your infant can receive a one-time, free eye exam with the InfantSEE program. It includes a no-cost first eye assessment for children under the age of one, and your income or insurance coverage isn’t taken into account.

Optometrists who are members of AOA donate their time to help examine infants’ eyes all over the country. The goal is to ensure that proper vision care is a routine part of infants’ overall care in the United States. 

After the first eye exam, children should receive an additional exam at the age of three, before they start school, and then every two years afterward. If you have a new baby in the family, look for a participating optometrist to schedule an appointment

Eye Care: Programs for Children

If you’re eligible for Medicaid, your child can receive a free or very low-cost eye exam. Many factors determine if you may be eligible for Medicaid, including:

  • Your state of residence
  • Your family income
  • If you’re disabled or pregnant
  • Your age
  • If you are a U.S. citizen

Most low-income families qualify for Medicaid, which includes a variety of health services. These services cover things like screenings, doctor and hospital visits, dental care, and vision care.

Check with your state to ensure that you’re eligible for Medicaid and enroll as soon as possible. Under this program, your child should receive an eye exam as recommended by their eye doctor.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP

Another option to explore is CHIP or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. This state and federal partnership offers low-cost insurance coverage for children in low-income families that earn too much to get Medicaid but too little to buy private health insurance.

If your child is of school age, CHIP will cover their eye exam if you’re unable to receive Medicaid. The rules for income eligibility may vary by state, but all children who enroll in the CHIP program must be uninsured to receive the free eye exam.

Eye exams are free of charge under the CHIP program; however, you may need to pay for some of your child’s cost requires eyeglasses. Most states offer free eye exams for all children enrolled in the program, but you’ll need to be prepared to cover part of the costs for other specific services.

Free Eye Exams and Free Eyeglasses for Low-Income Adults

There are many options available to adults on a fixed or low income. One program, VISION USA, is sponsored by Optometry Cares – The AOA Foundation. This program offers free eye exams to low-income workers and their families who are uninsured.

A public service program called EyeCare America is part of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. This program provides free eye exams for seniors who qualify. Those eligible will receive a complete eye exam and up to one full year of eye care if a disease is diagnosed during the exam at no cost to you.

EyeCare America provides eye care services for legal residents and U.S. citizens who don’t have an ophthalmologist. If you do not have an HMO or any eye care coverage through the VA (Veterans Administration), you may qualify.

If you have Medicare or another form of vision insurance, you can use this as payment. People without insurance will receive free care under the program.

Another resource for exams and free eyeglasses for low-income families and adults is Lions Club International. The organization offers financial assistance for eye-related services through local clubs, which you can find on their website

New Eyes

The New Eyes program provides prescription eyeglasses to children and adults who meet the requirements. To qualify, you must be at or below 2.5 times the Federal Poverty guidelines.

Eligible participants may sign up through a social worker or a local eye care clinic. Once you sign up, you’ll receive a voucher you can use to redeem on the New Eyes website. 

To qualify for this program, you must meet the income and financial requirements and have had an eye exam within the last two years. You may not receive any other government resources or charitable programs that help pay for eyeglasses.

VSP Eyes of Hope

Another program providing financial assistance for eye exams and eyeglasses is the Eyes of Hope program, offered through VSP Global. This program gives gift certificates for eyeglasses and helps with the cost of eye exams for adults, children, and those who’ve been affected by a disaster.

Here are some guidelines for children set forth by VSP Eyes of Hope:

  • Youth and children must be 19 years of age or younger
  • Your family income must be at or under the 200% Federal Poverty guidelines
  • You may not have vision care coverage through a government program or a private insurance company
  • Your child must not have received care through any VSP program during the previous 12 months

The VSP Sight for Students program offers free prescription glasses and free eye care from a local eye doctor. Parents can find a local partner or talk to their child’s school nurse to sign up for the gift certificate.

For adults, the same guidelines apply, and it covers individuals of any age over 19. Those who qualify will receive gift certificates to receive free prescription eyeglasses. If you don’t need an eye exam but need help paying for eyeglasses, you may receive a materials-only gift certificate if you already have routine eye exam coverage.

VSP also partners with the American Red Cross to help those affected by a disaster. If you’ve been affected by natural disasters like a flood, fire, hurricane, or tornado and don’t have vision coverage, you may qualify for a gift certificate. Contact your local American Red Cross chapter to find out more.

More Ways to Get Help

Besides getting free eyeglasses for low-income families and free eye exams, other eye-related programs can help other issues. Mission Cataract USA offers free cataract surgeries one day a year. The surgery is available to people of any age as long as they have no insurance and don’t otherwise qualify for Medicaid, Medicare, or any other type of government help.

Operation Sight also provides free cataract surgery to those at or below twice the Federal Poverty Level and who are uninsured or underinsured. People who receive Medicare Part B are not eligible. If you have a formal cataract diagnosis, you can complete the form to see if you qualify.

People affected by vision loss can join VisionAware, a support program to help adults deal with life after losing their vision. This program has online and in-person support groups where patients can discuss their concerns. It’s a great way for adults to connect with others who are dealing with the same problems so they can share their stories and get emotional support.

In addition to these programs and charities, you may find other resources through your state and local health departments. Many states offer alternatives for free exams to help with low-income eye care needs. Don’t hesitate to ask about the possibility of receiving a free eye appointment or free eyeglasses if you need them.

Clear Vision for All

Whether it’s for infants, children, or adults, there are many options to get free eye exams and free eyeglasses for low-income households and individuals. Use these resources to help you find a local office or chapter near you so you can find out if you qualify.

Don’t forget to take advantage of other resources, such as free cataract surgery or local support groups if you’re dealing with vision loss and feel alone or need advice.

Visit our blog today to find out more about other programs available for low-income families so you can get the help you need.

The Lifeline program provides free wireless service including talk, text, and data to qualifying recipients. Click here to check your eligibility for the program.