Available resources for Keratoconus
January 23, 2014 12:11 PM   Subscribe

What are some available resources for low-income adult children of undocumented immigrants to help with severe vision problems specifically in the Los Angeles area?

A friend of mine is an early 20s child of undocumented immigrants without a high school diploma. He currently works full time on the west side of Los Angeles for not much money. He has severe keratoconus. About a year ago he had the cross linking surgery performed by someone named in the article to stop the progression of the disease. His vision is still so bad he still needs to wear two contacts in each eye and can only wear them for less than 10 hours a day. He took out a loan of $6000 in order to afford the crosslinking procedure and has consistently paid it for the last year. To improve his vision so that he can see for longer than 10 hours a day, allowing him to complete his schooling and get a better job, he needs to have lenses implanted in his cornea. At the aforementioned surgeon, the rate is $4800 per eye and non-negotiable. There is another surgeon in LA who will do the same procedure for $3500. Care credit, where he got the original loan, will not loan him more money because of his low income. Are there options for charity care for vision problems? No insurance that he qualifies for seems to cover surgery.
posted by GregorWill to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
It's unclear to me, and may be to others: Is your friend a US citizen, or not? (Because having parents who are undocumented doesn't make the child undocumented, necessarily, and different resources will be available if he's a citizen.)
posted by rtha at 12:21 PM on January 23, 2014

Response by poster: Yes he is a US citizen.
posted by GregorWill at 12:22 PM on January 23, 2014

He should head over to Covered California, because if he's low-income, he may be eligible for Medi-Cal. If he has trouble accessing or navigating the site (because of his vision or lack or steady access to a computer), he should check with a local health clinic and/or the county health department, who will be able to hook him up with a person who will help him navigate all this.
posted by rtha at 12:28 PM on January 23, 2014

Response by poster: Since his vision is correctable with contact lenses he hasn't had success with getting Medi-Cal to pay for it.
posted by GregorWill at 12:34 PM on January 23, 2014

Response by poster: Actually, looking at the Medi-cal FAQs for Vision Care, while the examination for keratoconus is covered, even the contact lenses (that cost about $1200 for a set) are not covered.
posted by GregorWill at 12:40 PM on January 23, 2014

The Center for the Partially Sighted.

They have an office on the West Side, on Centinela .

Google it. They are angels.
posted by jbenben at 12:40 PM on January 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

He's still probably eligible for a subsidy for health insurance. He could also try the Eye Institute at USC and the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA. On the east side, there's the Doheny Eye Institute, which is more of a research organization, but they might be able to help him find a surgeon, etc..
posted by Ideefixe at 12:41 PM on January 23, 2014

This is probably already on your radar, but have you contacted the National Keratoconus Foundation? It sounds like his crosslinking has been unsuccessful if he still cannot reliably see. Based on my understanding of keratoconus from a family member who has it, once your vision cannot be corrected to better than 20/50, you are eligible for a corneal transplant. Having to wear two pairs of lenses in order to see might be on the far side of "correctable." The NKF is an advocacy and research association, and can steer you and your friend in the right direction to find someone local who can help and advise.
posted by juniperesque at 12:46 PM on January 23, 2014

Those university and low income eye clinics are a better bet, but if that fails, you could try a local Lions' Club for financial assistance. In LA, they have a program called L.O.V.E., and while the website is kinda old looking, I think they are still pretty active, as a family friend is a member out there and volunteers for the project.
posted by bluefly at 6:07 PM on January 23, 2014

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