Stanford ophthalmologists offer free vision exams to poor and uninsured
A Stanford ocular surgeon who specializes in treating people with low vision is offering free vision tests to low-income and uninsured people for the first time in the state.
Dr. Robert Noyes said the test was designed to give doctors a more accurate diagnosis.
“I think it’s going to be really helpful to see how our population is different from other populations,” Noye said.
“We don’t see as many people as we would like, so it’s important that we do a little better.”
Noyes was one of a handful of Stanford othcologists who signed on to offer the test to patients who can’t afford it, which could save patients money.
The Stanford Health System is one of many in California that has started offering eye exams free to residents who don’t qualify for Medicaid.
Some patients pay $20 a month for the tests, which are meant to be used only once.
While most other health systems offer free eye exams, only about 15% of people qualify for free services in most parts of the state, said Dr. William H. Nettles, director of Stanford’s ophthalmic department.
The test is a big step for Stanford, which is the state’s largest employer.
The university has been ranked No. 4 in the nation for health outcomes by the American Ophthalmologist Association, with nearly 50,000 doctors working there.
Stanford Health System spokesman Kevin P. Davis said the new program will help to boost the health of low- and middle-income people, who typically struggle with eye health.
There are a lot of other places that are doing that, he said.
Many people don’t have health insurance, so this is a great opportunity for us to show them we care.
Nettles said the Stanford ophthamologist will be testing people in the community at a number of clinics throughout the state over the next few weeks.
If people show up, the ophthalms will have a full-color, printable, easy-to-understand scan and will have their own lab technician to run it.
About 75% of residents in the U.S. have some type of eye disease, according to a report by the National Association of State Optometrists.
A growing number of patients are being diagnosed with a disease called macular degeneration, or MDD, which affects vision in both eyes, according the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
For people with a high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, or high cholesterol, the risk for developing MDD is even higher, according a recent study.
Although the Stanford Health Plan, the state health insurance program for low- to middle- income residents, does not offer eye exams for people without health insurance coverage, the plan offers a free, limited vision test.