New York City to fund eye exams, eyeglasses for low-income citizens

New York City Council members have voted to pass a law that would make the city the first in the nation to pay for both eye exams and eyeglasses for residents who are low-income. 

The issue is a personal one for Council Member Justin Brannan.

"I turned 35 then all of a sudden, I started having trouble seeing out of my left eye," the member of the council told FOX 5.

Brannan was then diagnosed with a rare eye disease that ultimately led to him getting a cornea transplant.

"It made me start thinking about folks who are not as lucky as I am, who don’t have healthcare and who don’t have access to prescription eyeglasses much less an eye exam," Brannon remembered.

That includes those in families that make no more than 2.5 times the federal poverty line. Per guidelines, an individual making less than $36,450 dollars, a couple making less than $49,300 and a family of 4 earning less than $75,000 would be eligible for the program.

"We believe that up to a million New Yorkers might be eligible for this program which would give free eye exams and if they need it, they would get a free pair of eyeglasses," Brannan said.

The bill requires Mayor Adams to select an agency or department within the city to establish the program for all income-eligible individuals.

The agency appointed by the mayor will provide eye tests and if it’s determined a person needs eyeglasses, they'd get them for free up to a certain cost to be determined by that agency.

Some of the money to fund the program would come from taxpayer dollars while the councilman anticipates a third-party group or company to partner with the city to provide free glasses.

The law takes effect in early December.