We recently wrote a blog on the accessibility and costs of getting an eye test in
America as an adult; and you can read this blog here. However, in this blog we
are going to explore national and state programs that will enable you to get a
free or lower cost eye examination for your child (providing your child is under
the age of 16 in most cases).
There is no shortage of local programs with eye vision retailers and state health
opthamologists where free eye exams can be sought for juniors and children;
but our focus in this blog is going to be national programs that are accessible
across all states.
The five most prominent national programs are:
InfantSEE free eye tests are only available to children younger than 12 months
old and can only be made available once per child. InfantSEE is a public health
program run by the AOA (American Optometric Association) and is run with the
objective of identifying major vision issues that might negatively impact your
child’s development in his/her early years. A free InfantSEE eye examination can
be delivered at any AOA optometrist’s office, and there are no income or location
limits on its redemption. It should be noted that AOA optometrists who offer you
an InfantSEE appointment are not allowed to re-charge the cost to any insurance
package; as the treatment must be delivered completely free of charge.
Sight For Students
Sight For Students is a VSP (Vision Service Plan) program which is aimed at
people under the age of 19 years of age. If your child doesn’t have private or
public vision coverage, and your family income is no greater than double the
federal poverty line, then you are eligible for a Sight For Students free eye
examination. The simplest and easiest way to apply for this eye examination is
through your child’s school nurse; who can arrange this with your nearest VSP
Network Clinic and it may even be deliverable in the friendly setting of your
Eyes Of Hope
Eyes Of Hope is another of the Vision Service Plans initiatives. Similarly to the
Sight For Students program, there is a couple of prerequisites for use, in that
you mustn’t be earning more than double the federal poverty line, or have
access to private vision insurance; but the Eyes Of Hope program extends to
cover the cost of eyeglasses and prescriptions in addition to the actual eye exam
Vision To Learn
Vision To Learn is a non-profit organization that offers both free eye tests and
also facilitates the cost of eyeglasses for children in low-income households and
low-income communities. It is currently available in more than 20 states and is
delivered through a combination of the school system and mobile clinic pop-ups.
Free exams are only accessible to children who attend school in low-income
neighbourhoods. Learn more about whether your child’s school qualifies through
your school or through the Vision To Learn website.
Medicaid & CHIP
CHIP is an acronym for the ‘Children’s Health Insurance Program’ which offers
free eye exams for children in most states across America. You can enroll your
child into CHIP if you are considered to be low-income, but your household
earnings are above the maximum threshold to qualify for Medicaid. If you are
low-income and within the earnings parameters of Medicaid, then applying for a
free eye exam through Medicaid is a better solution for you and your child.