Is there financial assistance for prescription glasses?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I would like to know where to go to get help for my mom. She needs glasses and Medicare will not pay for them. She has little money to live on and I'm on my own and don't have the money. Can you help me? We live by Fort Worth, Texas.

Expert Answer

You're right about Medicare -- it won't cover eyeglasses for your mother unless she's recovering from cataract surgery. But from the sound of her financial situation, your mother might qualify for Medicaid, which does cover eyeglasses for people enrolled in the program in Texas. Medicaid is available to her if she is age 65 or over, or disabled, and if she has very low income and few assets, not counting a home she lives in or her personal possessions. For information about the details of how to qualify for Medicaid in Texas, and for help in applying, you can go to the Web site of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which operates the Medicaid program in Texas. That site can also direct you to a local Medicaid office near your mother in Fort Worth.

Even if your mother qualifies for Medicaid, however, that doesn't mean that Medicaid will pay for her eye exam and eyeglasses from any optometrist, oculist or eye doctor. Instead, Medicaid will only pay for an eye exam and lenses, and only for very basic frames, from an eye care provider who participates in Medicaid. Once she qualifies for Medicaid, your mother can get a referral from the local Medicaid office to the Fort Worth area eye care providers who participate in the program.

If your mother doesn't qualify for Medicaid, she might try contacting the Tarrant County Optometric Society. That's the professional organization of optometrists in Tarrant County. She could ask them if they have any programs to provide eyeglasses at a reduced price to people with low income.