Low income families can get free eye care tests as well as other assistance from the Minnesota Vision Project (MVP). The program is available across the state and it is focused on not only helping struggling households, but it also supports individuals that either are uninsured or that lack proper eye care coverage. The assistance is provided by a number of organizations and volunteer doctors in the state, including optometrists and the Salvation Army among others.
After an exam has been completed, if the doctor determines that prescription glasses are needed (or some other instrument) to help correct the patient's vision, then this will be provided to them at a discounted price. Some people will also be diagnosed with some form of eye disease or larger health issue, and if that occurs then either medications or referral are given. The bottom line is that no matter what was discovered from the eye exam, more follow up services are given if needed.
The program is run in close partnership with the Salvation Army. In fact, a referral will be needed from that non-profit in order to apply for it. The Salvation Army will not only provide applications to the program, they also screen people, pass out vouchers to clients so they can obtain the glasses, and offer other support services.
In addition, hundreds of optometrists from across Minnesota also donate their time as well as resources. Some work at local eye care stores such as Soderberg or the Costco store, others are independent professionals. The Vision Project relies extensively on these volunteers from the community and the state. Without them given their time and energy, no one would be able to be assisted.
Note that priority is given to the unemployed and individuals living in poverty. In addition, due to demand, the eye care assistance program can only be used once every 2 years. So anyone that has recently received help will be put to the back of the waiting list.
Free prescription eyeglasses, maybe contact lenses, and frames may be provided to those individuals that need them. This is where the corrective approach from the Project comes into play. There are local and national retailers that donate supplies to the Salvation Army and state. These glasses are then sold, at a very low price point, to patients that need them.
To apply for a free eye test from the Minnesota Vision Project, people need to contact their Salvation Army. They should bring proof of income, whether they have government or private health insurance, and any results they have from previous eye doctors. If they already have corrective lenses that they are using, applicants should bring those too.
If the applicant has insurance that covers some or all of the costs of an exam/prescription glasses, then this will exclude that person from MVP. The program will only assist those individuals whose insurance is lacking when it comes to offering them comprehensive eye care. Or of course if the family has no medical insurance and all, then they may be qualified.
Appointments are always needed with an eye doctor. Most of them in Minnesota will have a waiting list as they often provide free check ups on a part time basis. They will be given an exam that tests their vision, looks for disease, and addresses any other vision needs.
For more information or to apply to MVP - Minnesota Vision Project, contact a Salvation Army center. Or dial 651-746-3525. Also note, that even if not qualified, then community clinics may be another option. These health care centers will often give some basic eye care for free to those families that meet income guidelines.
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