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Helping the High Country's Vision with Eyeglasses Program


Makayla sports her eyeglasses she received from the New Eyes Voucher Program.

Born out of curiosity and the want to find more ways to help, the Hunger and Health Coalition has helped current clients receive free eyeglasses provided by another nonprofit called New Eyes for the Needy.


Since adopting the New Eyes Voucher Program in October 2023, HHC has assisted clients in sending 14 applications to receive a new pair of prescription eyeglasses. According to the program, the average cost of glasses would be about $60 a pair without this assistance. 


HHC Prescription Assistance Coordinator Makayla Caudill came across information about the New Eyes Voucher Program while searching around the database HHC uses for prescription assistance — The Pharmacy Connection — one day. She tested out the service by applying for a free pair of eyeglasses herself, and received a pair in the mail about a week later.


Makayla said she remembers being in the 7th grade when she received her first pair of eyeglasses. She added that not being able to see properly can be frustrating and in some cases may hinder someone’s ability to read important information or take medication properly. She wanted to help alleviate the financial burden for clients of having better vision. 


Watauga native Kim Towery received her free pair of eyeglasses through the program toward the end of December 2023. She said she tends to go to the Community Care Clinic — next door to the Hunger and Health Coalition — for her health care needs as she doesn’t have insurance. She received an eye exam through the Community Care Clinic, and was told she needed new glasses as she was having difficulty seeing up close and farther away. The clinic could just provide the exam and not pricing for frames and lenses, so she said she was on her own to pay for new glasses.


“I know through paying for glasses for my daughter when she was younger, and I had insurance, even with the insurance it was still pretty pricey,” Kim said. “I figured with no insurance that it would just be cost prohibitive for me to go anywhere to get eyeglasses. It was not an expense I had budgeted out.”


Already having been a client at the Hunger and Health Coalition to receive food and medication, Kim said she learned about the eyeglasses program after picking up one of her medications and an informational flyer was attached to her medication bag. She called Makayla to apply for the program, and heard back that day that she had been approved. A few weeks later, Kim received her glasses in the mail. She said she was excited to have received them quickly.


Kim encouraged other HHC clients to reach out to Makayla to see if they qualify to receive free eyeglasses.


“I wear my glasses now every day,” Kim said. “I can see to read or to look at my phone. I can drive at night and see better with my glasses now. It’s definitely worth the effort to explore the option of the program.”


Kim added that having resources such as food, medications and free eyeglasses through the Hunger and Health Coalition “makes a world of difference” for those who come to HHC for services “otherwise, we might just have to do without.” She said she felt blessed and fortunate to have received eyeglasses through the New Eyes Voucher program.


Chart displaying qualifying incomes courtesy of New Eyes for the Needy.

HHC is able to help those living in Watauga, Avery and Ashe counties through the program. Anyone living at 250% or less of the Federal Poverty Guidelines is eligible to receive glasses through the New Eyes program. 


In order to be eligible to receive a free pair of glasses, applicants must have had an eye exam in the last 24 months. The program does not pay for eye exams. HHC can refer folks to Vision NC to receive a free eye exam if they do not have insurance. 



 

For more information on where to receive an eye exam in Boone, reference the document below.


Eyeglass Flyer & Dr (E)
.pdf
Download PDF • 930KB

 

Once proof of an eye exam can be submitted, Makayla will apply for the eyeglasses on behalf of the client. Adults are able to get one free pair of eyeglasses once a year; children receive two pairs of glasses. Clients are able to pick which pair of glasses they’d like to receive. Makayla said there are eight glasses frame options for kids, nine options for women’s glasses and 12 options for men — most have three to five color choices for frames.


Folks have 90 days after receiving approval of their application to use the voucher for the glasses.


The glasses do not arrive with a glasses case or cleaner. Makayla said that when Western Caroline Eyes Associates heard about the program coming to HHC, the business donated eyeglass cases and cleaners. She added that individuals have also donated cases in the last several months. 

For more information about the New Eyes Voucher program or other pharmacy questions, contact Makayla at (828) 264-5212 or makayla@hungerandhealthcoalition.com.

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Jun 26

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