West Virginia is home to incredible scenic views, but without proper vision care, it can be hard to enjoy the natural beauty of the state. Vision is an important sense, and when your sight suffers, even the smallest everyday tasks can become difficult to complete. Additionally, poor vision care can mean that potentially dangerous conditions like glaucoma are able to flourish and thrive, eventually impacting other systems in the body, including the cardiovascular system and the nervous system.

Does Traditional Insurance Cover Vision Care in West Virginia?
Vision insurance is often offered as a separate option by private healthcare insurance providers. While this may not be a big deal for someone with optimal ocular health, it can put a financial strain on individuals who need routine vision care, eye surgery and corrective lenses. Some West Virginia insurance providers may include a vision benefit for limited services as an addition to traditional health benefits instead of providing full vision insurance coverage.

Does West Virginia Medicaid Cover Vision?
If private insurance is not an option, especially due to income constraints, some West Virginia residents may qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. Medicare is provided as an option for seniors and some individuals who meet eligibility requirements of the program due to disability.

Medicaid assistance, however, is only available for individuals and families who fall below specific income threshold levels. Children of families that do not qualify for state-subsidized health or vision coverage may be able to receive services under the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Medicaid’s vision services include coverage for exams, but there are limitations for adults. Any benefit recipient over the age of 21 will only receive coverage for eye exams when exams are being completed as part of care for a larger vision health concern. Cosmetic procedures are not covered. If a program participant needs corrective lenses, these are only covered if a cataract extraction has taken place. Adults who need a prosthetic eye can have the procedure covered when a medical professional documents that it is medically necessary to perform an eye replacement.

Children in West Virginia receive a much greater array of vision services that are covered by Medicaid through the state. Children under the age of 21 are covered for exams, eyeglasses or sometimes contact lenses, specialty corrective lenses and some vision training services when conditions like strabismus exist. It should be noted that eye training services are only available to West Virginia children up to age 10. Children’s vision services must meet the requirements outlined in the Bright Futures program.

Protecting Your Vision and Ocular Health
Because services are often limited for adults in West Virginia who rely on state-subsidized medical aid for vision care, it’s important to protect your vision as best as possible on your own to avoid the need for comprehensive care later. This means limiting time spent in front of screens and getting good sleep. Your vision can also suffer if you are prescribed corrective lenses and you are not using them. Keeping up with glasses and contacts can be frustrating, but neglecting the use of prescribed corrective lenses can lead to new or worsening symptoms with age, potentially causing a much greater vision problem down the road.

Children should also limit time in front of screens, and screens should only be viewed in rooms with natural lighting. Viewing screens in the dark or under artificial light can lead to eye strain, and for children who are still developing, this strain can cause future problems that may have been avoided by reducing screen brightness during indoor use. For younger children, it’s also a good idea to regularly monitor vision development by utilizing simple counting exercises to test for vision accuracy. To learn more about vision testing that you can do at home, speak with your child’s pediatrician.

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