February 17, 2021

The HHS Blindness Education, Screening and Treatment (BEST) program provides free vision screenings and financial assistance for urgent eye treatments. While the program can receive donations, its primary funding is through driver’s license or identification card applications and renewals.

Texans can support the BEST program when they apply for or renew their driver’s license or ID. Just check “Yes” next to, “Do you wish to donate $1.00 to the Blindness Education, Screening and Treatment Program?” on the Texas Department of Public Safety form.

“All Texans must have a REAL ID by Oct. 1 in order to fly on a domestic flight or enter federal buildings,” said Lena Deary, program specialist. “This is a great time to learn about the BEST program and consider donating if you need to renew your driver’s license.”

To participate in the BEST program, Texans must be recommended by an ophthalmologist, be at least 18 years old, not have insurance or another resource with which to pay for treatment, and not be legally blind.

If a person is eligible, they can receive funding for treatment or surgery for conditions that could lead to blindness, such as diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachment and glaucoma. If a person doesn’t financially qualify for the program, the BEST program will provide other resources.

The pandemic affected many Texans in various ways. The BEST program quickly adjusted to the constraints created by the pandemic to ensure continuity of vision screenings across the state by incorporating a virtual model. As a result, screenings remain available to continue to reach the target population. “Participants feel safer while receiving services in their chosen environment,” Deary said.

Like in-person screenings, virtual screenings allow health professionals to discuss screening results with each person and make recommendations for their health care provider or give information on how to get treatment.

Learn more about the BEST program here.