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Ophthalmologists offer eye exams for as low as $1 to those without insurance

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By Jesef Williams

Those without insurance will be able to get an eye exam at a low price and contribute to a good cause at the same time.

The Eye & Laser Center in Lancaster has started its Sight Saver Eye Exams campaign, through which people who are uninsured can receive a complete dilated eye exam for as low as $1.

The initiative started Monday and will run as long as the center believes residents need the help, said Dr. Malcolm Edwards, an ophthalmologist at the center.

Edwards and the other three ophthalmologists will each see three patients per week on the plan.

Patients decide how much they will pay (between $1 and $50). The Eye & Laser Center will donate the money it collects to HOPE in Lancaster, a local charity that helps with food, rent and utility expenses.

HOPE director Elaine Adkins was thrilled to hear the news. She sees it as a double benefit – as many residents don’t have enough for the essentials and naturally have to put off needed medical check-ups.

“People cannot afford to have eye exams,” Adkins said.

“We see it continuously getting worse,” she said about the local economic situation. “We appreciate any donation we can get.”

Edwards said the Eye & Laser Center decided to offer the discounted eye exams after thinking about the high number of patients it encounters with financial trouble.

Many of the patients are long overdue for an exam by the time they schedule an appointment, Edwards said.

He said the center has already gotten a lot of inquiries about the Sight Saver Eye Exam campaign.

The center started its day Monday at 8 a.m. and by 8:20 a.m., five people had already scheduled an appointment under the program.

“That’s how much need there is in the community,” Edwards said. “We need to do it as long as we have to.”  

A complete eye exam – which also checks for conditions such as cataract and glaucoma – costs either $145 or $170 at the Eye & Laser Center, Edwards said.

Edwards will soon discuss his plan with the S.C. Society of Ophthalmology in hopes that ophthalmologists around the state will do the same thing.

Edwards is the society’s president.

For details about the Eye & Laser Center’s exam service, call 285-4333. Its location is 1240 Colonial Commons in Lancaster.

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1152