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Free Eye Exams for Eligible Seniors With Diabetes

Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of vision loss among adults in the United States. It causes up to 24,000 new cases of vision loss each year.

Early detection, timely treatment and appropriate follow-up care can reduce the risk of blindness by 95 percent, even for people with established and significant diabetic retinopathy.

In honor of Healthy Vision Month taking place in May 2004, EyeCare America, the public service foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, encourages seniors to take advantage of its Diabetes EyeCare Program.

This year-round program offers eye exams and up to one year of treatment at no out-of-pocket cost to qualified patients. To see if you, a loved one or a friend, is eligible to receive a referral for an eye exam and care, call 1-800-272-EYES (3937), 24 hours, seven days a week, year round.

All eligible callers receive a referral to one of EyeCare America's 7,500 volunteer ophthalmologists.

NOTE: There are about 20 doctors in the Cleveland area. When you call the toll free number they will screen to see if you qualify and then recommend a doctor. They do not publicize the doctors names ahead of time.

"A significant percentage of the millions of patients with diabetes are at risk of losing their eye sight," stated C.P. Wilkinson, MD, Committee Chairman of EyeCare America's Diabetes EyeCare Program.

"Those with diabetes can prevent blindness through annual dilated eye exams. I am honored to be part of a program that helps provide access to important medical eye care to people in need."

Healthy Vision Month is a national campaign sponsored by the National Eye Institute and the National Eye Health Education Program. The focus of Healthy Vision Month 2004 is to reduce visual impairment due to diabetic retinopathy.

Millions of people with diabetes are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness. EyeCare America is a partner in the U.S. government's national effort to reduce visual impairment due to diabetes.

"I saw the doctor twice and will see him again in a year. He's very nice . . . a real star in my book! I am happy that you recommended him to me," said Jeanette Nini, an EyeCare America patient.

EyeCare America's Diabetes EyeCare Program (DEP) promotes annual, dilated eye exams for seniors with diabetes. DEP raises awareness about diabetic eye disease, including diabetic retinopathy, provides free diabetic eye disease educational materials and facilitates access to eye care.

People eligible for a referral through the program receive a comprehensive, medical eye exam and up to one year of treatment with no out-of-pocket cost for any disease diagnosed during the initial exam. Volunteer ophthalmologists accept Medicare and/or other insurance reimbursement as payment in full.

EyeCare America's Diabetes EyeCare Program is designed for people who:

  • Have diabetes
  • Are US citizens or legal residents
  • Are age 65 and older- Have not seen an ophthalmologist in three or more years
  • Do not have eye care insurance through an HMO or the VAF
For a Diabetes EyeCare Program referral, those interested may call 1-800-272-EYES (3937) toll-free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

EyeCare America's national public service program provides access to eye care for the medically underserved and for those at increased risk for eye disease through volunteer ophthalmologists who donate their services.

More than 90 percent of the care made available through EyeCare America is provided at no out-of-pocket cost to the patients. The organization operates programs for seniors, glaucoma, diabetes, and children, and is one of the largest programs of its kind in the United States.

Since 1985, EyeCare America's public service program has helped more than 650,000 people and treated more than 180,000 cases of eye disease. More information can be found at: www.eyecareamerica.org

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