Eye checks can help identify signs of underlying medical conditions while supporting eye health and vision, Jeremy Chadwick, managing director EMEA VSP Vision Care
Aberdeen University scientists recently announced that they have developed a new test that detects mental health disorders without using high tech MRI equipment or tracking brain waves. It is nearly 100% effective and is done completely through the eyes.
Although this test is still in the trial stages, it is becoming more apparent that the eyes are a remarkable pathway to diagnose and prevent chronic conditions. Regular comprehensive eye checks help to spot serious underlying medical conditions early on, like diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.
In fact, signs can be seen up to seven years prior than typically found through other means, according to research by Harris et al. in Diabetes Care (vol. 15 no. 7). Yet, a study conducted by TNS on behalf of VSP, published in December 2014, found that 39% of UK adults do not have regular eye tests. Changing this lacklustre attitude can benefit both individuals and their employers.
Cost and cash flow concerns are major reasons why people don’t have their eyes examined more often. For example, some things that may worry them are the wait periods and excesses that often come with benefits. A vision care benefit tends to work best when it does not come with these caveats. Employees also tend to respond much more positively if the optician bills the provider directly, rather than the employee paying and then claiming it back from the provider. This can encourage greater use and therefore better eye health engagement and awareness.
The importance of eye care for employees cannot be underestimated. Not only are employees with healthy eyes who are supported with necessary vision correction able to see well, healthy and corrected vision also means fewer headaches, less digital eye strain, and reduced dry eyes; all of which can negatively impact productivity.
The increased use of technology also causes an increased risk to our eyes. Blue light exposure from digital devices can impact the retina’s cells and has the potential to cause macular degeneration, which raises questions about an employer’s duty of care.
A vision care benefit gives employees access to regular screenings to monitor eye health, and can provide cover towards specialised lenses that can help absorb and deflect blue light.
Access to actionable data about the health of the workforce, collected through confidential aggregated reporting, gives employers the ability to track chronic conditions over time and shape their wellness programme and benefits to better fit their employees’ needs.
As new eye health technology continues to develop and the dangers of blue light become better known, employers serious about supporting eye care will be seen as employers of choice. Vision care is a valuable benefit that helps employees manage their health and save money on eyewear, as well as boost the firm’s productivity.
Eye health is the next frontier for UK businesses who want to offer the best employee benefits and equally maximise the return on investment in their workforce