The Ogeechee Technical College Opticianry program recently hosted a clinic in the program’s Contact Lens Lab in conjunction with the Georgia Lions Lighthouse. Tiffany M. Ellerbee and Morgan Alexander, two of five Vision Clinic Coordinators with the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation, travel as a team to each of 11 clinic sites to provide Eye exams and Eyeglasses to communities, and were on-hand at the Ogeechee Tech event.
According to Ellerbee, the reach of the Georgia Lions Lighthouse extends across the state of Georgia, and services have been provided in every county. The Lighthouse facilitated over 300 eye surgeries last year, and provided over 5,400 eyeglasses or exams to 3,556 Georgians. In addition, 986 people received 1,810 hearing aids through Lighthouse’s new digital aid program. To be eligible for services, patients must
- be uninsured or underinsured and
- fall below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guideline (FPG). The majority of Lighthouse patients, 66 percent, fall below 100% of the FPG.
“As with the uninsured, patients with Medicaid or Medicare coverage are frequently unable to afford comprehensive vision and hearing care. In Georgia, federal benefits will usually cover eye exams, but not prescription eyeglasses or hearing aids for adults,” said Ellerbee. “Given the lack of available services, many Lighthouse patients have not had proper care for years,” Ellerbee stated. According to information provided by the Georgia Lions Lighthouse, the average age of a Lighthouse patient is 55, and those in the hearing aid program are typically over the age of 65. Many clients have hypertension (49%) or diabetes (29%), two of the leading causes of blindness, making ongoing eye exams critical to preventative care. “Without routine care, it is not uncommon for vision and hearing loss to worsen over time, gradually restricting mobility and independence. Others struggle for years with severe impairments that make daily tasks - driving to the store, reading labels, or talking on the phone - extremely difficult,” explained Alexander. “The Lighthouse helps restore self-sufficiency and self-esteem: following eye surgery, 95% of patients are more independent and feel safer; 60% are able to drive again, and 22% are able to resume work,” Alexander concluded.
“We would like to thank Ogeechee Tech so much for helping us have the clinic in Statesboro up and running!” said Ellerbee. “We served 12 patients at the clinic on April 2, and in the last two weeks our students have fitted, ordered lenses, and made several pairs of glasses for the Statesboro Lions Club’s clients,” said Deborah DeLoach, Ogeechee Tech Opticianry program director. “The clinics not only help patients, but they offer an opportunity for our students to practice learned skills under the supervision of instructors,” said DeLoach.
“We have two more Statesboro clinics scheduled this year. Those interested can apply online at www.lionslighthouse.org,” said Ellerbee.
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