Eye Care for Detroit to Bring Inexpensive, High-quality Eye Health Services to Detroit
Cleamon Moorer Jr. stands with an Eye Care for Detroit shuttle. // Courtesy of Cleamon Moorer Jr.
Starting Sept. 1, approximately 40,000 homebound Detroit residents and other underserved populations in metro Detroit will have access to low-cost, high-quality eye care through Eye Care for Detroit Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and its partnership with Eyeglasses.com.
The partnership will qualify Eye Care for Detroit patients for reduced-cost frame options through Eyeglasses.com. As an homage to Detroit and its founding on July 24, 1701, eyeglass frames will be available for $17 or a 17.01 percent discount sitewide for the foreseeable future.
“Thousands of Detroit residents are at risk of preventable and treatable eye diseases due to a lack of access to care and affordable options,” says Cleamon Moorer Jr., founding executive director of Eye Care for Detroit. “Those with poor vision are more likely to experience falls, social isolation, and decreased independence.
“Our organization aims to eliminate the barriers and to make eye care more accessible for at-risk, aging, and marginalized populations. This incredible partnership with Eyeglasses.com will make the eyewear portion of care much more affordable.”
Mark Agnew, founder and CEO of Eyeglasses.com, provided the reduced eyewear pricing for Detroiters along with more than 120 frames as samples from which patients can choose.
“When I heard about the mission of Eye Care for Detroit, I knew instantly I wanted to get involved,” says Agnew. “After sustaining a life-changing injury that left me permanently blinded in one eye and realizing just how expensive eye care can be, I decided to dedicate my life’s work to finding easier and less costly ways to purchase eyeglasses. This collaboration is one more way Eyeglasses.com can help make affordable eye care a reality for Detroit residents.”
Eye Care for Detroit is assembling a network of licensed eye care professionals, specialists, and primary care physicians to provide accessible care that will be offered a variety of ways, including telehealth though Eye Care For Detroit’s network; in-home visits by providers equipped to perform exams and procedures inside patients’ homes; a mobile clinic equipped for participating optometrists and ophthalmologists to perform routine eye exams at patients’ residences, and shuttle service for non-emergency transportation to eye care appointments.
It also is developing a mobile app that will allow patients, their families, or caregivers to schedule eye appointments with participating health care providers. A prototype of the app won the TechTown Detroit Start Studio MVP People’s Choice award during Demo Day 2022.
Moorer says future plans include the recruitment and training of community health navigators, resident vouchers for eye care-related expenses such as prescriptions and transportation, the continued development and maintenance of the Eye Care for Detroit app, an automated referral tracking system compliant with federal law restricting the release of medical information, and equipment and maintenance for a shuttle system to transport patients and mobile clinics.
Moorer was born with congenital cataracts in both eyes and by 21, he was legally blind. His working-class family did not have the money to pay for the necessary surgery which cost $6,000 in 1997. Moorer’s mother wrote a letter to what was then the Grace Guild of Sinai-Grace Hospital explaining their plight. The Guild covered the cost of the surgery that restored Moorer’s vision. Now he says he wants to pay it forward.
Another factor for Eye Care for Detroit was Moorer’s first-hand observation of the need for accessible health care. He and his wife, Nicole C. Willis-Moorer, operate American Advantage Home Care in Dearborn, along with offices in Grand Blanc, Detroit, and Trenton.
“We’ve worked with many homebound patients in Detroit,” says Moorer. “Detroit is at the crossroads of poverty, aging, limited access to health care, health care inequities, and declines in health and wellness. Many eye disorders and diseases are treatable if detected early. The current system does not enable that.”