IU School of Optometry receives funds to advance eye care for uninsured

Oct. 23, 2013


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- On average in Indiana, hardly a day goes by without an uninsured or underinsured person receiving needed eye care services with the help of the Indiana University School of Optometry. Now, through an in-perpetuity gift from the recently dissolved nonprofit Saving Sight Indiana, that ongoing support is guaranteed.

Indiana University School of Optometry Community Outreach -- the public service arm of the IU school in Bloomington and Indianapolis that provides patients with information and education, and coordinates with local organizations to offer referrals for free vision care and other social and medical services -- will receive annual support of about $14,000 per year from the Saving Sight Indiana Endowment Fund held by the Central Indiana Community Foundation.

IU School of Optometry Dean Joe Bonanno said the annual disbursement will allow the outreach program to provide vision care to uninsured or underinsured individuals in perpetuity, making the impact significant to those it is designed to serve: residents of Indiana who need health care assistance.

“Our long partnership with Saving Sight Indiana has been a valued one and knowing the support that so many residents have needed in the past will continue recognizes the past and ongoing commitment of the many volunteers who supported that organization over the years,” Bonanno said. “This gift is notable in that it provides support for this much-needed project forever.”

Saving Sight Indiana’s board of directors voted unanimously this year to dissolve the organization and name the School of Optometry as a “successor of interest” to carry on the former organization’s missions toward saving sight and preventing blindness for Indiana residents.

In the past year, coordinated support from the School of Optometry, the Marion County Health Department and the Hoover Family Foundation provided eye care services, assistance or ophthalmic materials to over 300 uninsured or underinsured individuals in the Indianapolis area.

To qualify for the Indiana University School of Optometry Community Outreach program, an individual must live in Indiana, have a household income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, have no health care benefit covering eyeglass materials and not be eligible for other funded assistance programs providing vision care. Individuals needing assistance can call the outreach program voicemail line at 317-321-1407 to see if they qualify.