Eyeglasses and contact lenses

Eyeglasses and contact lenses

As of Feb. 1, the process for checking your eligibility and accessing your optical benefits became easier. The UFT Welfare Fund has eliminated paper optical certificates and introduced a new digital process for providing your free or discounted eye exams, eyeglasses and contact lenses.

Your optical benefits remain the same, but the UFT Welfare Fund has enhanced ease of use and the speed at which claims are paid.

You no longer need to request and wait for an optical certificate to be mailed to you. And there is no longer a three-month expiration date to worry about. Now you just confirm your eligibility with the Welfare Fund’s optical benefits partner, General Vision Services (GVS), and then obtain services from a vision provider.

Your optical benefits

As a member of the UFT Welfare Fund, you and your eligible dependents can obtain optical services once every two years. Your optical benefits entitle you to one pair of eyeglasses and an accompanying eye exam, or to contact lenses. Prescription sunglasses are also covered.

To receive reimbursement for both your eye exam and your eyeglasses, you need to obtain both services at the same time and location. Therefore, we recommend that you hold off getting your eye exam until you have found eyeglasses you want to buy. The union cannot accept separate claims for the eye exam and glasses for a two-year period.

Step 1: Check your eligibility

You can check your eligibility at any time on the new GVS website for UFT members at www.gvsuft.com. You will be asked for identifying information, such as your UFT ID number or the last five digits of your Social Security Number. For assistance, you can also call the GVS’ dedicated phone line for UFT members at 212-729-5395.

Step 2: Access your optical benefits

If you are eligible for the optical benefit, you can make an appointment or walk in to a participating vision provider (for in-network coverage) or a nonparticipating vision provider of your choice (for out-of-network coverage).

An additional way to access your benefits is by downloading the GVS app, available in the app store (iOS or Android only). There you can find a listing of in-network providers, preview your benefits and access a virtual ID card.

How to pay for them

If you are using a participating provider, there are no claim forms to file. You are covered for the benefits described above and in the chart at left.

As always, the GVS phone line for UFT members at 212-729-5395 is available to support you if you have any questions.

How to use your out-of-network benefits

You may obtain services from the provider of your choice outside of the preferred vision provider network, though your out-of-pocket expense may be higher as a result.

When you go outside the network, you are responsible to pay for the services provided and then you submit a copy of your prescription and your paid, itemized receipt for reimbursement.

You will receive reimbursement of up to $125 in total (included in that amount is a maximum of $20 for an eye exam).

How to submit a claim

You may submit your claim (including a paid, itemized receipt, and a copy of your prescription) on the GVS website at www.gvsuft.com, via the GVS app or by mail.

On the GVS website or app, you will fill out the required fields and upload supporting documents. For paper claim submissions, call the GVS phone line at 212-729-5395 for further guidance.

Although GVS will now be your main point of contact for your optical benefits, feel free to contact the UFT Welfare Fund at 212-539-0500 if you have any questions or concerns.

Network Reimbursement Schedule




Every 24 Months


Covered in full


Includes Tonometry

Covered in full





Every 24 Months

Basic Frame

(up to a $100 retail value)

Covered in full


Upgraded Frame Discount

10% off retail price


Frame Allowance

$100 Allowance


Every 24 Months

Single Vision

Covered in full



Covered in full



Covered in full



Covered in full


Upgraded Lenses

10% off retail price




Covered in full






Scratch Resistant



Standard Anti-Reflective (glare free)



Ultra Violet



Less than 40% Tint



Greater than 40%

Covered in full


Plastic Photochromic



(In Lieu of Eyeglasses)
Every 24 Months

Contact lenses

$125 Allowance


1 For locations outside of New York, a copay for an eye exam may apply. Any additional services that surpass the benefit are the responsibility of the patient.
2 When professionally recommended.
3 Colored contacts are not included.

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Related Topics: Know Your Benefits, Health Benefits, Optical
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Source URL: https://www.uft.org/news/you-should-know/know-your-benefits/eyeglasses-and-contact-lenses