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CA’s Eye Doctors Have Life-Saving News for Bay Area Residents Enrolled in Medi-Cal

Starting in 2020, California is providing eyeglasses to adults as a covered benefit in the Medi-Cal program.




(PRESS RELEASE) BERKELEY, CA – On Monday, State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) will join eye doctors and optometry students at a news conference to bring life-saving news to Bay Area residents who are enrolled in Medi-Cal. Starting in 2020, California is providing eyeglasses to adults as a covered benefit in the Medi-Cal program. That means enrolled adults can not only visit an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam, but now they can receive eyeglasses or vision aid at no cost every two years.

At the event, optometrists who are leaders of the California Optometric Association and experts from UC Berkeley’s School of Optometry will explain how Californians enrolled in Medi-Cal can access the benefit and why the opportunity for new eyeglasses makes a difference in California’s fight against diabetes and other costly, deadly chronic diseases.

Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley)
John G. Flanagan, PhD, DSchc, FCOptom, FAAO, Dean and Professor of Optometry and Vision Science, University of California Berkeley School of Optometry
Christina Wilmer, OD, FAAO, Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, University of California Berkeley School of Optometry
David Redman, O.D., Chair, COA Legislation-Regulation Committee
Loukia Hadjiyianni, 3rd year OD student, UC Berkeley School of Optometry

Other students *we will have Spanish-language speakers available for interviews

March 9, 2020 at 11AM

University of California Berkeley School of Optometry, Room 491
380 Minor Ln, Berkeley, CA 94720


Media parking: Maxwell Garage, 2175 Piedmont Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94720. If needed: Equipment drop-off: 382 Minor Hall (Main floor)

The press conference will also be livestreamed at

California cut coverage for eyeglasses’ and vision aids in the Medi-Cal program during the great recession, leading too many Californians to put off a trip to the eye doctor. Restoring this important benefit means Californians with low incomes are not only more likely to have accurate eyeglass prescriptions to help them see, but are also more likely to obtain the comprehensive eye exams that can detect diabetes, hypertension, eye cancers and other diseases that can cause vision loss or even death.

Early detection is critical for the populations most at risk, especially Latinos and Black Californians, who experience diabetes at twice the rate of white Californians.

One in three Californians participates in Medi-Cal, making the opportunity for eyeglasses a potential game-changer in the fight against diabetes. Patients are two to three times more likely to access comprehensive eye exams if they have insurance coverage for a new pair of eyeglasses. In 2018 alone, optometrists caught 301,000 cases of diabetes in Americans who didn’t know they had a disease that could rob them of their vision – and their lives.



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