BY JONATHAN ORMSBY
Workplace wellness initiatives are not a new trend, but they are on the rise. According to a recent report by Allied Market Research, the global workplace wellness industry is expected to hit $74 billion by 2026.
While workplace wellness includes many initiatives—such as catered healthy food options, standing desks, paid or discounted gym memberships and more—one initiative that is being overlooked is healthy vision.
Comprehensive eye exams identifying common problems with vision—such as trouble seeing up close or far away—are also a way to detect eye diseases and serious overall health issues while it’s still early enough to seek treatment and save on medical costs.
The 2020 Transitions Optical Workplace Wellness survey found that half of employees say the top way to improve their overall productivity and quality of work would be encouragement by employers to take breaks to rest their eyes and prevent eye strain. However, only one-third of their employers are actually implementing this. With employees saying that workplace eye health is so important—and particularly younger generations who are making up an increasing portion of the workplace—now is the opportunity to arm employers with the tools they need
to implement a successful workplace wellness program, including offering comprehensive vision benefits plans that cover premium eyewear options.
GIVING A PRODUCTIVITY AND HEALTH BOOST TO EMPLOYEE EYES
In the Workplace Wellness survey, not only did employees say that resting their eyes is something that would help productivity and quality of work, but half also said that it would improve their overall health. And they’re right, considering that the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) notes that staring at screens and digital devices for long periods of time may cause dry and tired eyes, as well as blurry vision, fatigue or eyestrain. Employees in the survey validated this, as almost three-quarters of those surveyed say they frequently experience digital eye strain in the workplace—with eight in 10 saying they experience negative symptoms from looking at a screen all day including eyestrain, back, neck and shoulder pain and headaches. When employees can’t see well, they can’t work well.
The AAO suggests taking regular breaks using the “20-20-20” rule: every 20 minutes, moving eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds. Not only does poor vision impact work, but it also impacts overall health. In addition to comprehensive eye exams identifying common problems with vision—such as trouble seeing up close or far away—exams are also a way to detect eye diseases and serious overall health issues while it’s still early enough to seek treatment and save on medical costs.
The Workplace Wellness survey revealed nine in 10 employees say they’re likely to get a comprehensive eye exam in the next year—but only half of Gen Z employees are very likely. With these workers showing interest in eye health (88% of Gen Z employees noted the importance of resting eyes at work), now is the time to keep them informed on the benefits of a comprehensive eye exam, which could detect common eye diseases like cataract, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, as well as serious and costly health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension (also known as high blood pressure).
ADDITIONAL WAYS TO PROTECT EYES WITH PREMIUM BENEFITS
In addition to implementing a workplace wellness program that includes encouraging breaks to protect and rest eyes, employers should also offer comprehensive vision benefits plans that cover premium eyewear options to alleviate common visual problems, followed closely by ongoing education about the importance of sight-enhancing eyeglass lens options. Employees not only need vision benefits—they want them, and they’re more likely to engage with employers who offer them.
In fact, nearly two in three employees say they would be more likely to accept a job offering vision benefits. Brand name matters, as well. Eight in 10 employees say they’d be more likely to enroll in or keep a vision plan that covers eyewear options like Transitions® Light Intelligent Lenses™. And, seven in 10 say it’s important to have authentic Transitions® brand lenses covered by their company’s vision plan. The most desired premium lens options include:
● Blue light protection: 31%Older generations are especially interested in these types of premium lenses, with six in 10 Gen X employees and seven in 10 Boomers wanting no-glare coatings. This is an opportunity to reach and educate younger generations about the benefits these types of lenses bring, in addition to encouraging them to get a yearly eye exam.
VISION AND WELLNESS GO HAND IN HAND
Today’s workforce is savvier than ever when it comes to overall health and wellness, and they know protecting their eyes is crucial—especially as screen usage continues to increase. It’s essential for today’s employers to offer these wellness initiatives, including comprehensive vision benefits. Low in cost, they offer a high return-on-investment for employers. Vision benefits can help to save on medical costs, boost employee productivity, and can even help to attract and retain top talent. To help elevate the importance of comprehensive eye exams and quality eyewear available through vision benefits, Transitions Optical offers
a variety of employee and employer focused tools and education. These can be accessed, free of charge, at HealthySightWorkingforYou.org
JONATHAN ORMSBY is a key account manager for Transitions Optical, and 14-year veteran of the optical industry.