In response to a letter regarding the National Eye Care Project of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, I wish to reveal some information. The project is designed to help aged, disadvantaged people. About 1 million persons over 65 years of age in this country are not covered by either Medicare or other health insurance; 80% of the practicing eye physicians of our country have said they will for free or for insurance benefits only take care of these disadvantaged people's medical eye problems. This is not a one-time commitment, but an ongoing, long-range commitment for the care of this community. The National Eye Care Project of Ophthalmology has found that 31% of those people seen through this program have never had an eye examination before.
This program is designed only for medical conditions affecting the eyes. The optometrist who felt the program was unfair competition was mistaken. The thrust of the program is for medical eye conditions, not for routine glasses or problems. The National Eye Care Project will accept referrals from optometrists on behalf of their patients. We would welcome and be glad to entertain an effort on the part of organized optometry to provide appropriate services to disadvantaged seniors. Possibly the optometrist from Costa Mesa would be willing to begin that project. A word of caution: It's a great deal of work and effort and not everyone will understand your motives.
NICHOLAS J. VINCENT MD
Counselor, American Academy of Ophthalmology