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Free Eye Exams & Prescription Eyeglasses Offered for People in Need

Seattle/King County Clinic returns after pandemic hiatus Oct. 20-23

SEATTLE (September 27, 2022)Seattle/King County Clinic returns to Seattle Center for a seventh year Oct. 20-23 with free eye exams and prescription eyeglasses for those who struggle to access or afford eye care.

According to Washington Healthcare Access Alliance, vision care is one of the scarcest health services in the state for people in need – so as the Clinic approaches, organizers are focusing on patient outreach to make certain those in need are aware of this opportunity.

Led by Seattle Center and Seattle Center Foundation, Seattle/King County Clinic brings together healthcare organizations, civic agencies, nonprofits and private businesses to transform Seattle Center facilities into a vision care operation. Licensed healthcare professionals and general support volunteers donate their time and expertise with a goal of helping more than 1,000 people in need during the four-day period.

Seattle/King County Clinic is open to everyone, and it is not restricted to residents of Seattle or King County – however, tickets are limited, and participants are admitted for service on a first come, first served basis.

Organizers open the facility and begin to distribute free admission tickets in Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center (corner of 2nd Ave. North & Thomas Street/Lenny Wilkens Way) each day beginning at 6 a.m., with the doors to the Clinic opening at 7:30 a.m. Once the Clinic opens, patients are escorted to the service facility and admitted by ticket number to be registered and receive free eye care. If prescription eyeglasses are ordered, they will be distributed in early December.

Additional Seattle/King County Clinic details include:

  • Face masks are required, though people should not attend if they are feeling sick
  • Identification or proof of immigration status are not required
  • Free interpretation services are available
  • Free parking is available at the Mercer Street Parking Garage at Seattle Center (650 3rd Ave. North)
  • Additional information is available at seattlecenter.org/patients

“Imagine going through your daily activities with blurry or limited vision,” said Julia Colson, director of Seattle/King County Clinic. “To struggle with even basic functions such as reading or navigating your environment puts a significant strain on your life. Often, health insurance doesn’t cover vision care, and there are very few options for free or low-cost prescription eyeglasses, making it one of the most under-resourced services for people in need in our community. Amid the current affordability crisis in our region, the Clinic offers some relief to people facing barriers receiving vision care.”

Statistics from previous years show that many patients who come to the Clinic do not have health insurance (52%), are unemployed (30%), and many are at or below the federal poverty level. They come from across the region, representing more than 260 zip codes, and speak 50 primary languages. Patients are parents, children, elders, veterans, immigrants, refugees, people living homeless and, in large part, wage-earners who struggle with the high cost of living.

As one patient stated, “The financial burden of health care in America is prohibitive. Even for those of us working full-time with very basic health insurance, there are services I need that I can’t afford.”

Seattle/King County Clinic is made possible through thousands of donated work hours as well as cash and in-kind contributions. In its first six years, that support helped the clinic provide $20 million in direct services to 23,000 patients. Donations are accepted at seattlecenter.org/donations.

Clinic organizers are still in need of additional eye care professionals, social workers, health insurance navigators and interpreters to fill a range of volunteer functions and shifts. They also seek volunteers in early December to help dispense the prescription eyeglasses that are ordered during the Clinic. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old. Individuals may register at seattlecenter.org/volunteers.

“Every person deserves access to quality vision and health care, but, sadly, the existing costly, cumbersome, and racially inequitable system causes too many to fall through the cracks without getting the support they need,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. “Seattle/King County Clinic is a great example for how we can create change and foster a healthier community by coming together through trust and collaboration."

Learn more about Seattle/King County Clinic at seattlecenter.org/skcclinic or by calling 206-684-7200.

About Clinic Partners
Several community organizations collaborate to produce Seattle/King County Clinic and contribute needed resources and expertise, including:

141 Eyewear | Amazon | AMN Healthcare | Auston James Photography | Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation | DCG ONE | Essilor Vision Foundation | Europa Eyewear | Grand Lodge of Washington | Grousemont Foundation | Heidelberg Engineering | HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response | Jorgenson-Peninsula Optical Supply | Kaiser Permanente | Mediterranean Inn | Microsoft | Mid-Gulf Instruments | National Association of Social Workers – Washington Chapter | The Norcliffe Foundation | Opticians Association of Washington | Optometric Physicians of Washington | OVVO Optics | Pacific Office Automation | Project Access Northwest | Public Health – Seattle & King County | Seattle Center | Seattle Center Foundation | Seattle Housing Authority | Seattle Information Technology | Seattle Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs | Seattle Police Department | SPARK | Swedish | Underwood Gartland Development | Virginia Mason Franciscan Health | Vitalogy Foundation | VOSH Northwest | Washington Academy of Eye Physicians & Surgeons | Washington Eye Foundation | Washington Healthcare Access Alliance | Washington State Department of Health | Zeiss

About Seattle Center
Seattle Center is celebrating 60 years with all that is “New, Now, and Next” as Seattle’s hub for arts, sports, community events, and cultural festivals. Originally built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, the dynamic 74-acre campus has transformed over the years to respond to, reflect, and represent the region’s ever-broadening community. Seattle Center and its iconic International Fountain are often referred to as the “Heart of Seattle,” serving as a treasured community gathering place where the local, regional, national, and international visitors come together every day. Today more than 30 cultural, educational, sports and entertainment organizations reside on the grounds, along with a diverse variety of public programs and thousands of events attracting more than 12 million visitors each year. At Seattle Center, part of Uptown Arts & Cultural District and home to Climate Pledge Arena, our purpose is to create exceptional events, experiences, and environments that delight and inspire the human spirit to build stronger communities. Activities at the Center generate $1.864 billion in business activity and $631 million in labor income.


Since this is a vision clinic only, organizers request that news outlets refrain from showing images and/or video from past Seattle/King County Clinic events showing medical or dental services, so as not to confuse the public about services offered at this Clinic.

Media is welcome to visit the Clinic (if arranged in advance) and on load-in/set-up and Clinic event days during the following hours:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 18 & Wednesday, Oct. 19 during load-in/set-up between 11am & 3pm (please schedule time in advance)
  • Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 20-23 during the Clinic days from 6 a.m. – 4 p.m. (please provide at least two-hours’ advance notice)

Because this is a healthcare facility, all media representatives should be at least 10 days past any COVID infection and symptom free -- and will be required to wear a face mask.

Media attending the Clinic, will be required to check-in at the Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall (321 Mercer Street).

Event photos available upon request.

Meghan McLaughlin, meghan.mclaughlin-c@seattle.gov

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