Free Glasses and Eye Exams for Seniors

In many ways, seniors face similar problems with their eye coverage as they do with their dental coverage when they retire, making knowledge of free glasses and eye exams for seniors vital.  And the reason is the same for both.  When you retire or turn 65 and your standard health insurance runs out, you expect Medicare to “pick up the slack” so to speak.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the way it works.  I have already detailed how Medicare does not cover dental care previously, and now I am here to tell you in most instances Medicare does not cover glasses or eye exams.

Quoting the Medicare.gov website, …

Medicare doesn’t cover routine eye exams (sometimes called “eye refractions”) for eyeglasses or contact lenses.  Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers some preventative and diagnostic eye exams:

  • Yearly eye exam
  • Glaucoma tests
  • Macular degeneration

Now, at first reading that you might think that Medicare at least covers a yearly eye exam, but they don’t…they only cover the exam for diabetic retinopathy.  So if you aren’t a diabetic, they don’t cover you.

So, where does that leave those looking for free glasses for seniors and a free eye exam?  Fortunately, there are some options out there.  Now that being said, this isn’t going to be an easy task…but there are a few sources you need look at, and then if those are not available to you I will at least draw your attention to some cheaper options that will be available to you.

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Video Overview of Free Glasses and Eye Exams For Seniors


Lions Club

The Lions Club was initially founded almost 100 years ago with the mission of assisting the blind, and while that mission has been expanded to other roles, at its core is assisting people who have vision issues.

Not only can you use their eyeglass bank to get free glasses but the Lions also offer free eye exams and glaucoma screenings as well.

Now, to find a local club and see if they have an eyeglass bank just click here [link opens in a separate window] to be taken to their ‘Club Finder’ page.  From there you can access help at the local level.

New Eyes For The Needy

New Eyes For The Needy operates a voucher program where any low-income individuals, including senior citizens, can obtain free glasses and have been around for decades.  Perhaps you remember this classic public service announcement that Steve Allen did on their behalf in the 1980’s…

Steve Allen PSA for New Eyes for the Needy


One thing to note is that this program does NOT eye exams, they are exclusively for the free glasses for seniors and low-income individuals.  And you will need a recent eye exam in order to qualify for a free pair of glasses.

So, to help you out below I will have a list of some places you can consider to go to in order to get a free (or at least really cheap) eye exam.

American Optometric Association 

The AOA partners with several organizations to assist low-income individuals to obtain both eye exams as well as glasses for those in need.  Click on this link [opens in a separate window] and pick the program from the AOA website that best fills your needs and requirements.

There are several other organizations that provide free eye exams for seniors, and may also be able to help with getting you the glasses you need.  These organizations include:

Prevent Blindness America

This is a volunteer organization focused around strengthening public awareness of eye issues.  50% of blindness is preventable with regularly scheduled eye exams.

EyeCare America

Eye Care America offers medical eye exams, often at no out-of-pocket costs to the patient, if you qualify.  To find put if you do, and to find out more about their senior assistance programs, click here [aao.org/eyecare-america/read-more]

And below is a video outlining what EyeCare America does…

Vision USA 

Vision USA also offers free eye exams to low-income seniors.  To qualify, you must meet ALL FIVE eligibility requirements listed below…

  • Have no private or government insurance, including Medicare or Medicaid
  • Have income below the “established level based on household size”. This is a number that changes yearly based upon the poverty level
  • Have not had an eye exam in the last 24 months
  • Have NOT received a referral to Vision USA in the last two years
  • Must be a US citizen or a legal resident

Now, the above encompasses sources of free glasses and eye exams for seniors and low-income individuals, but the question becomes…what do you do if you either don’t qualify or have to wait a significant amount of time for a voucher to become effective?

If Not Free Glasses and Eye Exams for Seniors…At Least Cheap 

How can you then at least find a pair or cheap or inexpensive glasses?

One potential source is to get a pair of glasses and Free shipping from 39DollarGlasses.com.

They are one of the largest internet suppliers of glasses and also one of the most reasonable priced.  So while I know you are looking for free, they can help if you cannot qualify for any of the sources of free glasses I described above.

Additionally, if all you are seeking is reading glasses, and do not need a prescription, something like this could be really handy…

Here is a nice idea for someone who has low vision but still enjoys to read.  Reading glasses with lights allow those with vision issues to light up what they are reading to make reading fun again.

Reading Glasses With Lights

The best part about the frames is that they are attractive, lightweight and the lights can be turned on and off based upon your needs at the time.  The glasses run on 4 button batteries and are easily replaced.

Conclusion

I did my best to give you as much information as possible regarding not only free glasses (and economical alternatives) but also sources where you could get a free eye exam as well.  As with all free services, you may be put on a waiting list in order to receive the assistance you need.  It might take several months, but the help is out there if you go and find it.