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Wisconsin free eye exams and prescription glasses.

In an effort to prevent blindness, and ensure full access to free prescription glasses as well as vision testing, the Wisconsin Project was created by several different organizations. Not only do a number of non-profit agencies contribute to its success, but there are also volunteer doctors, optical labs as well as optometrists that fully participate in the service. A focus is on helping children, but seniors and other adults can get referrals to programs that help with vision needs.

The Wisconsin Project will only help families with no health insurance. Or maybe they do have a policy (such as from the Affordable Care Act) that does not pay for prescription glasses or it does not cover eye tests. In these situations the agency may also be able to assist.

Also, almost all of the assistance is for residents under the age of 18 that have not had any care in the last 12 months. A major user of the program is for students as well as infants or newborns. Focusing on this age groups allows the project to make the biggest difference. As if there is an eye care issue that the patient has, the earlier the diagnosis the better.

Wisconsin families over the age of 18 can apply for assistance from the Wisconsin Project. Many senior citizens, whether they are low or moderate income, can have special eye care needs. Maybe they need surgery for cataract removal or other needs. In these cases referrals can be given from the Wisconsin Optometric Association (WOA), as there are doctors in the state that offer free care for this. Many of them work at community clinics, and find more health care clinics in Wisconsin.

No matter the age of what is needed, the applicant for vision care will need to have a low income. They often need to meet poverty guidelines that are set at 200% of government guidelines. This will be based on the household size too. So the more family members, the higher the income cut off can be.

When it comes to the types of free eye care assistance available in Wisconsin, testing is usually done for free. Some of the other actions that may be needed, such as surgery, hospitalization, treatment for diabetes diseases, etc. may have a minimal cost. The Wisconsin eye doctors that are part of the Project may bill based on a sliding fee scale, or they will request a donation. When there is a cost, it is just intended to offset the expense incurred by the agency. They do not make a profit on this.





Prescription glasses as well as contact lenses will often come with a minimal cost. Very rare, if ever, will the Wisconsin Project give these out for free. If the applicant has zero money or income to their name, then they can always try the Lions Club for these glasses. This national organization will also try to solve vision problems of the low income as well as uninsured.

As noted, a focus is on children. The Wisconsin Optometric Association will provide free check ups before the back to school seasons. There are licensed eye doctor that offers this service for free to those that qualify.

The non-profit wants to increase the percentage of children that have their eyes check. When a family is living on a low income, this type of medical need often goes unaddressed. So WOA, as well as their partners, work to resolve this issue. Whether a parent is a single mom, or the family has a newborn, the earlier eye care is given the better.

For more information, the Wisconsin Project is based at 6510 Grand Teton Plaza, Madison, WI 53719. Families with children can dial 1-877-435-2020, or others that need free eye care should contact a clinic as noted above.



By Jon McNamara

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