VSP Vision Care outlines the need for keeping an eye on glaucoma

Many authorities now recognise diabetes as a major health threat that can be identified via signs of early onset detected during comprehensive eye exams. But another major candidate for early detection is glaucoma, a complicated disease that damages the optic nerve and leads to progressive, irreversible vision loss.

Often considered the second leading cause of blindness, there are several forms of glaucoma. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, open-angle glaucoma is the most common form, accounting for at least 90% of all glaucoma cases and affecting millions of people worldwide. It’s estimated that one in two people with this type of glaucoma don’t even know they have it.

While all forms of glaucoma require the help of an eyecare professional, angle-closure glaucoma, a less common form caused by blocked drainage canals, can result in a sudden rise in intraocular pressure and requires immediate medical attention.

However, identifying glaucoma can be more easily said than done as initially it has no obvious symptoms. Pressure in the eye builds up gradually, and at some point, the optic nerve is damaged and peripheral vision is lost.

Sometimes people with later stages of glaucoma may bump into doorways or not see a car in a passing lane because their side vision is significantly affected – dangerous enough in its own right, especially for drivers who drive regularly for work.

Because of the invidious nature of glaucoma and the lack of initial symptoms, it’s important to get annual, comprehensive eye exams to help detect signs of the disease.

Those who may be at higher risk for glaucoma often have high eye pressure or have a family history of glaucoma.  Ethnicity is also a factor, as studies have shown that people of African, Caribbean or Asian origin are at a higher risk than others.

Early detection through regular eye exams is the key to protecting your vision from damage caused by glaucoma.

During an examination for glaucoma, your eyecare provider will check your intraocular pressure and evaluate your optic nerve. If your eye pressure is elevated or your optic nerve looks suspicious, your provider will likely perform specialised scans of your retina and optic nerve to determine if you have glaucoma.

In the UK, increasing numbers of companies are providing regular health checks as part of a flexible benefits package. And there are real advantages in making sure eye tests are included as part of this health screening process, says VSP Vision Care.

By including regular and comprehensive eye examinations, employers can benefit from increased productivity and reduced absenteeism from conditions such as glaucoma says VSP Vision Care, the world’s largest not-for-profit vision eyecare services company with almost 90 million members worldwide.

Every year across Europe some 123 million workdays are lost, according to the European Forum Against Blindness, which makes a compelling case for regular and thorough eye health screening.

Meanwhile, the Vision Council found that poor vision results in 32 times more lost productivity than absenteeism, indicating that regular and comprehensive eye exams are in the best interests of both employers and employees.. Additionally, studies have also shown that receiving glasses can increase productivity by around 35%.

Jeremy Chadwick, Managing Director, EMEA at VSP Vision Care, says there are multiple benefits to including a comprehensive eye examination as part of employee health checks and wellbeing programmes.

“Early detection of critical illness can help nip future problems for employees in the bud. That is why it is so important that employer-led eyecare programmes reach all employees.

“Thorough, regular examinations support early diagnosis of conditions like glaucoma, helping make earlier treatment possible and driving better outcomes for employees and employer alike, as well as reducing absenteeism rates.”

The right vision programme can improve employee wellness and productivity, while at the same time meeting Health and Safety Executive requirements for employee use of DSE equipment.

Nor should eye-screening be viewed as a high cost activity, as typical employee vision programmes from VSP can be self-funding quickly due to the high return on investment from  complete eyecare programmes.

A five-year independent study by Human Capital Management Services, for example, identified a 145% return on investment on VSP Vision Care programmes, making them not only readily affordable but also eminently sensible.

For more information please get in touch: Suzanne Randall, Market Director UK and Ireland, +44 7720 243468 or email suzanne.randall@vsp.com