About the Program
Our appointment-based eye clinic addresses the ophthalmological needs of the uninsured and underserved. This clinic is hosted on Tuesday evenings, 6 times a year at the Havener Eye Center and screens for eye disease and abnormalities on Monday evenings, twice a month at Columbus Public Health. The eye clinic services begin with vision screenings at the Monday night Free Clinic. Screenings are performed by a trained vision screening volunteer as a collaborative effort with Prevent Blindness Ohio. Eye exams are performed for those not able to pass the screening test. Patients with diagnosed ophthalmologic needs are scheduled for follow-up which may range from the receipt of eye glasses to eye surgery at the Havener Eye Center. The collaborative efforts with Prevent Blindness Ohio, who trains volunteers in vision screening and assessment, and the Havener Eye Center, which performs complicated eye surgery, is an outgrowth and a response to the growing need for ophthalmological referrals by patients who appear at the Free Clinic.
Half of all blindness can be prevented, but unfortunately the number of people who suffer vision loss continues to increase. Only an eye doctor can diagnose and treat vision problems, but vision screenings which can be performed by well-trained lay volunteers help to identify adults who need a full exam. Securing ophthalmological services when needed and in a timely fashion is key to the overall health of the individual. Being available to serve as the access point for those services for the uninsured and underserved is essential.
Eye Clinic activity begins when the patient appears on any given Monday for a vision screening. Our health care records indicate that over 50% of patients who are screened during our Monday evening clinic fail their vision screening due to serious illness or refractive issues. In 2013, 166 patients were seen through our eye clinic for serious eye illness. Twenty percent (20%) of those patients went on to have eye surgery. Had any of these 166 patients’ eye condition gone untreated, they may have utilized an emergency room, which would drive up health care costs, or suffered from a worse alternative – blindness. The financial burden for the top four sight threatening eye diseases (cataract, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age related macular degeneration) can be seen through direct medical costs (medical office visits, medication, nursing homes etc.) and an increase in indirect costs such as loss of productivity. In 2013, PCC saved the community over $330,000 by treating these 166 patients through our charitable eye clinic.
Vision impairment is one of the most feared disabilities, as it impairs one’s mobility, basic daily activities, and overall standard of living. By providing vision services to individuals who have no insurance or access to health care resources and/or regular screenings, we are, over time, saving our community millions of dollars and immediately impacting and improving the health of our citizens.