The DARS Division for Blind Services (DBS) Blindness Education, Screening and Treatment (BEST) Program provides blindness education, vision screenings and urgent eye medical treatment services to eligible adult Texas residents.
The mission of the BEST Program is to prevent blindness by providing vision screening services and paying for treatment services for people with diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, detached retina, or any other eye disease determined to be an urgent medical necessity by the applicant's eye doctor and DARS.
Texans in need of BEST Program treatment services should apply through their physician or optometrist. The BEST Program is funded with voluntary donations when Texans receive their initial or renewal driver's licenses or identification cards issued through the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Serving More Texans
BEST was able to help a significantly greater number of Texans receive urgently needed eye medical treatment and vision screening services than predicted for 2015. Staff were able to serve 10.5 percent more consumers than originally planned.
Broderick Shares Gift of Sight with Others
Broderick Washington, 40, of Longview began experiencing difficulty with his vision in 1991, and his vision continued to worsen. Broderick's vision loss was caused by a medical condition called keratoconus which caused scarring and changes to the shape of his cornea, the clear outer layer of the eye that plays an important role in the ability to see.
As Broderick's vision decreased, he found it difficult to continue working and remain independent. "I had no idea what to do," he said, because he did not have the health care or insurance needed to address his eye condition. When an acquaintance told Broderick about BEST, he jumped at the chance to contact the program to see if they could help.
With assistance from BEST staff, Broderick was able to receive corneal transplant surgery from a local doctor who was a provider through the program. This surgery involved removing Broderick's damaged cornea and replacing it with a new cornea. The surgery was a full success and restored Broderick's vision.
In addition to assisting Broderick with the cost of surgery, BEST staff coordinated scheduling his pre- and post- surgery appointments with his doctor and helped him receive the prescriptions required after the surgery.
Today, Broderick is grateful for the assistance he received from the BEST program and the staff members who helped him restore his vision. He is also happy that the surgery he received has allowed him to continue working. "This program helped me so much! When I go out, I always try to make sure I tell anyone who may benefit from this program so maybe they can get some assistance like I did," explained Broderick.