Ophthalmologist: A medical doctor specializing in eye and vision care. An ophthalmologist can diagnose and treat eye disease, perform eye surgery, and prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems. Some eye doctors specialize in a specific area of medical or surgical eye care. This person is called a subspecialist - whose area of expertise may include glaucoma, retina, cornea, neurology, or plastic surgery.
Optometrist: A healthcare professional who provides primary vision care ranging from sight testing and correction to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of vision changes. They are normally not medical doctors but are licensed to practice optometry, which primarily involves performing eye exams and vision tests, prescribing, and dispensing corrective lenses, detecting certain eye abnormalities, and prescribing medications for certain eye diseases.
Optician: A technician trained to design, verify and fit eyeglass lenses and frames, contact lenses, and other corrective devices. They use prescriptions supplied by ophthalmologists or optometrists, but do not test vision or write prescriptions for visual correction. Opticians are not permitted to diagnose or treat eye diseases.
Paying for Eye Care
Medicare does not normally cover routine vision services, such as eyeglasses and eye exams. Medicare may cover some vision costs - if associated with another covered expense (that is, vision costs associated with eye problems resulting from an illness or injury). For example, following cataract surgery that implants an intraocular lens, Medicare Part B helps pay for corrective lenses (one pair of eyeglasses or one set of contact lenses).
NJ Medicaid/Family Care will cover a vision exam and eyeglasses – but you will need to use an approved Medicaid provider. Contact your Medicaid managed care for information.
EyeCare America is a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. People who are aged 65 or older and who have not seen an Eye M.D. in three or more years may be eligible to receive a comprehensive, medical eye exam and up to one year of care at no out-of-pocket cost for any disease diagnosed during the initial exam. Volunteer ophthalmologists will waive co-payments, accepting Medicare and /or other insurance reimbursement as payment in full: patients without insurance receive this care at no charge. EyeCare America does not provide eyeglass prescriptions, eyeglass/refraction exams (the prescription part of exam) or cover the cost of glasses. If you are concerned about the cost of these items, please discuss this with the doctor BEFORE the examination. 877-887-6327 (11:00-3:00- EST).
New Eyes for the Needy provides free eyeglass vouchers for those who cannot afford to buy a new pair of glasses. Applications can be submitted online.
Area Eye Care Providers
21 South Finley Ave, Basking Ridge, NJ
169 Mine Brook Rd, Bernardsville, NJ 07924
1107 Valley Rd, Stirling, NJ 07980
Low Vision Resources
Vision Loss Alliance of New Jersey provides support, education, skills training, assistive technology and employment opportunities for people of all ages. 973-627-0055
All About Vision is an on-line service which provides consumers with an unbiased source of information on eye health, visual impairment and vision correction.
The Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI) offers education and independent living training for people who are blind or visually impaired to regain the skills of daily living. CBVI offers a variety of supports:
Project BEST (Better Eye-Health and Treatment) is a free eye screening service for NJ Seniors. They also provide rehabilitation teaching to train the visually impaired on managing personal and household tasks, orientation and mobility instructions on how to travel independently, Diabetic self-care instruction for insulin injections, and referrals to services that help individuals adjust, socially and emotionally to vision loss. Locations are in Dover and Plainfield. 973-648-7400
Library Equal Access Program (LEAP) [PDF] – LEAP offers speech and magnification assistive technology training to consumers age 55 and over. Assistive technology has been placed in libraries throughout the state. Classes are being offered in basic and intermediate computer and iPad skills. This initiative is a collaborative effort between The NJ State Library Talking Book and Braille Center, Advancing Opportunities, and the NJ Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. For additional information contact Charles McKenna, Assistant Division Director, at 973-648-3333 or email Charles.McKenna@dhs.nj.gov.
Assistive Support Programs for Independence, Renewal and Education (ASPIRE) – ASPIRE programs are peer support programs geared towards those individuals that are blind and visually impaired who are that are 55 and older. Each groups focus is dependent upon the desires of the participants.Many groups address adjustment to vision loss and community integration, have speakers, educational resources and encourage social activities. The ASPIRE network has peer led support groups throughout all 21 counties within New Jersey. For additional information contact Charles McKenna, Assistant Division Director, at 973-648-3333 or email Charles.McKenna@dhs.nj.gov.
Senior Hands-On Retreat Experience (SHORE) – This retreat program is for blind or visually impaired CBVI participants who are 55 and better. The week-long event will take place in NJ Shore community. A SHORE Thing is an all-inclusive program that provides real-life experiential learning. Participants in this program will obtain information and an introduction to skills in: independent living, coping with vision loss, assistive technology, self-advocacy, health and wellness, orientation and mobility, leisure activities and confidence building. For additional information contact Charles McKenna, Assistant Division Director, at 973-648-3333 or email Charles.McKenna@dhs.nj.gov.
Lighting can make a big difference in how well you see. Be sure to use appropriate lighting in every room and on every stairway. Higher wattage task lighting can make it easier to do reading and other close work. Secure enough "night lights" to safely guide your way to the bathroom during the night. If you need glasses, use them! Don’t let “Pride goeth before the fall.”