This article is a part of a series of profiles of CalChamber member companies that are contributing to the state’s economic strength and ability to stay competitive in a global economy. Visit California Works to learn more about this series and read past and future profiles.
For nearly 70 years, VSP Vision™ has been the largest and only national not-for-profit vision benefits company. Founded by optometrists in California in 1955, the goal was simple yet ambitious: bring access to affordable, high-quality eye care to as many people as possible. Six-plus decades later, the leading health-focused vision company serves more than 85 million members – nearly 1 in 4 people living in the United States – through a network of 41,000 doctors.
As the health care and optometric industries have changed over the years, VSP Vision has grown purposefully to meet the evolving needs of the clients and members it serves. What started as a vision insurance company has since grown to include multiple lines of business, including eyewear, retail, ophthalmic lens products and optical manufacturing, practice management software and electronic health records.
To better reflect its evolution, this year the company rebranded from VSP Global to VSP Vision, marking a new era and reaffirming its commitment to care, passion to empower, and promise to reinvest in its stakeholders.
Preserving Access to Eye Care Amid COVID-19
As the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, the company focused on ensuring its members had access to eye care.
“The reality is medical eye care needs don’t stop just because the pandemic is going on,” said Kate Renwick-Espinosa, president of VSP Vision Care and member of the California Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. “We knew we could make a difference by helping our members stay connected to their VSP network doctor and not have to go to emergency rooms, which were under tremendous strain.”
In response, the company expanded access to essential medical eye care benefits for its insured members and their covered dependents. They could now visit their VSP network doctor in-person or remotely to get treated for a variety of conditions, including eye trauma, conjunctivitis, and sudden changes to vision.
In addition, VSP Vision harnessed its manufacturing and procurement resources to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to network doctors and even created face shields that were distributed across the country. It also established a grant program for doctors to provide cash payments up to $10,000 to help offset pandemic-related financial hardships.
VSP Eyes of Hope: Bringing Eye Care and Eyewear to Those in Need
One of the clearest examples of the company fulfilling its purpose of “empowering human potential through sight” is VSP Eyes of Hope. Income, distance, and disaster pose serious barriers to eye care and eyewear for many, but VSP Eyes of Hope removes those barriers by providing the care at no-cost.
More than 3.6 million people in need have gained access to vision care through the program, in collaboration with 8,500 VSP network doctors who participate annually. As VSP Eyes of Hope celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, the company is building on its promise through an investment of $1 million in two key initiatives: enhancing its eye care and eyewear gift certificates and reinvesting in its mobile clinics.
Gift Certificates Enhanced
Each year, 50,000 adults and children receive access to free vision care through VSP Eyes of Hope gift certificates, which reimburse VSP network doctors for the services they provide. In response to a growing need for vision care among disadvantaged communities, exacerbated by the pandemic, the frame coverage for the gift certificates is being expanded to make it easier for adults and children to access high-quality care and eyewear from a local VSP doctor.
Mobile Clinics Back on the Road
Since first responding to the needs of the New Orleans community in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the VSP Eyes of Hope mobile clinics have remained foundational to removing barriers to care and helping people experience all that is possible through clear vision. Partnering with local charitable organizations and eye doctors, the mobile clinic staff deliver no-cost eye exams and prescription glasses to communities in need.
The mobile clinics are fully equipped with an eye exam room, portable eye exam lanes, an eyewear dispensary stocked with frames and a finishing lab to produce prescription eyewear for many patients the same day they are provided care.
Recently, the VSP Eyes of Hope mobile clinics partnered with the San Diego County Optometric Society at Monarch School, which provides education and social services for K-12 students experiencing homelessness in San Diego, CA.
“By continuing to invest in these key initiatives, we remain focused on supporting better health equity across the country by increasing access to eye care and eyewear in places where it’s needed most,” said Michael Guyette, president and CEO of VSP Vision.