Why Employees of All Ages Need Vision Benefits to Protect Their Vision
By Jonathan Ormsby
With all the visual demands our eyes go through each day, from glare, harmful UV light and harmful blue light, it’s more important than ever to protect our vision now and as we age. (“Harmful blue light” is calculated up to 455nm, with the greatest toxicity between 415-455 nm.)
To help brokers show the value of vision benefits to their client employers, Transitions Optical conducts annual research studies of employee benefit preferences. Brokers can be confident that employees agree about the benefits of vision coverage. More employers are taking responsibility for keeping their workers healthy and are finding that offering vision benefits also keeps them loyal. According to Transitions Optical’s 2020 study, over 70% of people say protecting their eyes and health of their eyes is more important now than ever and was especially amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially true at the workplace. [OJ1] (People Research, Transitions Optical, Global Consumer Sentiment and Behavior, Multi-country survey (AR, AU, CO, FR, IT, SG, ZA, UK, US), Q4 2020, N=6,403, N=700 per country – Eyeglasses wearers agree to say Top2Boxes).
Whether a broker, an employer or a worker, our eyes need protection from infancy to older age. Optical solutions and vision benefits are essential to protecting our eye health in the short-and long-term. The good news is there is a lot that people can do to keep their eyes healthy, with some of the most important being annual eye exams, taking care of your overall health, and using optical solutions to protect your eyes.
Harmful Light Is All Around Us
Just like protecting your skin from the sun, it is important to protect your eyes from harmful UV light. Exposure to UV radiation is well established as a major cause of cortical cataract and other health conditions like premature skin aging (wrinkles) and certain skin cancers like carcinoma, which can affect the eyelids and facial skin. (Yam J.C., Kwok A.K., Ultraviolet light and ocular diseases, Int. Ophthalmol. 34 (2014) 383-400 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23722672)
Often associated exclusively with electronic devices and screens, harmful blue light is present both indoors and outdoors — it can be emitted by LED lights, halide lamps, digital devices and especially the sun. What most people may not know is that the sun is the largest singular source of harmful blue light, with over 100 times the intensity of electronic devices and screens. (Baillet G., Granger B., How Transitions® lenses filter harmful blue light, Points de Vue, International Review of Ophthalmic Optics, online publication, March 2016 http://www.pointsdevue.com/article/how-transitionsr-lenses-filter-harmful-blue-light).
It is important to mention that not all blue light is negative. Our body needs some blue light, specifically blue-turquoise light (blue light with wavelengths of approximately 460 to 485 nanometers). Exposure to blue light in the daytime helps to regulate melatonin production in our bodies, which in turn regulates our sleeping patterns. So, when we are exposed to blue light at night, we could be setting ourselves up for trouble sleeping which can lead to issues with our overall health. (Gronfier, C., The good blue and chronobiology: light and non-visual functions, Points de Vue, International Review of Ophthalmic Optics, N68, Spring, 2013 http://www.pointsdevue.com/article/good-blue-and-chronobiology-light-and-non-visual-functions) (The Low Down on Blue Light, Review of Optometry, February 2014).
However, prolonged exposure to harmful blue light can increase the possibility of temporary issues like eyestrain — and long-term exposure to harmful blue light has been linked to increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). (Arnault E. Barrau C, Nanteau C. Gondouin P, Bigot K, et al. “Phototoxic Action Spectrum on a Retinal Pigment Epithelium Model of Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Exposed to Sunlight Normalized Conditions.” PLoS ONE 8(*); e71398.doi:10. 1371398.August 23, 2013.)
Harmful Light Affects All Ages
Visual function is experienced as early as infancy and is imperative to healthy development as we age.
As more children are spending time indoors in front of screens, we are seeing an alarming rise in the increase of myopia (nearsightedness) in children. Children with myopia in the U.S. in 2020 is 39 million, with 45 million expected to have myopia by 2050. There is growing evidence that more time outdoors may lower the risk of nearsightedness in children — for each additional hour outdoors per week, risk of being nearsighted dropped by about 2%. (Edelman Berland, Unilever’s OMO/Persil and the Dirt is Good campaign. Global survey of 12,000 parents in ten nations (Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Portugal, South Africa, Turkey, UK, USA and Vietnam). Feb/March 2016).
Most people of all generations are interested in harmful blue light protection — and with their dependency on technology, it’s not surprising that Millennials are more likely to say it’s important to have blue light protection in their prescription eyeglasses. (Wakefield Research, Transitions Employee Perceptions of Vision Benefits Survey, 2017).
Brokers can be armed with the knowledge that all generations and ages have the desire for vision protection. Vision benefits that offer optical solutions are one of the most effective and important ways to protect our eyes from harmful light and aging.
Facts for Brokers
Employees Want Optical Solutions and Benefits to Protect Eye Health Long-Term
There are a myriad of light management solutions — from sunglasses to photochromic lenses — that are effective ways to protect our eyes from the harmful light we interact with on a day-to-day basis. Photochromic lenses manage more types of light than any other lens — they help protect from UVA and UVB rays and harmful blue light — both indoors and outdoors. Photochromic lenses also help provide glare protection that people need when they experience too much light intensity, causing them to squint which can lead to headaches and discomfort.
According to the 2021 Transitions Workplace Wellness survey, one-third of employees say they will actively seek out information about blue light eyeglasses, update their prescription, and/or buy new glasses. The survey also revealed a growing interest in photochromic lenses. Brokers ought to know that more than eight in 10 employees say that they would be more likely to enroll in a vision benefits plan that specifically covers Transitions® brand lenses. With that, 86% of employees say they are willing to pay more than their insurance allowance for a new pair of eyeglasses. (Transitions Optical, 2022 Workplace Wellness Survey, Wakefield Research, N=1,300 U.S. adults, ages 18+, employed full-time, part-time or self-employed, whose employer offers vision benefits).
Not only that, 96% of employees surveyed say they are also willing to pay above what their insurance fully covers for premium lens options — with more than half (55%) of employees willing to pay more for UV protection. Additionally, nearly half (49%) of employees report they are willing to pay more for blue light protection and 44% are willing to pay above what their insurance covers for photochromic lenses.
By investing in vision protection for employees and by providing vision benefits that advance these protections, your clients can offer support to their workforce’s overall wellness and the longevity of their eye health.
By offering vision benefits with protective lenses included, brokers can help companies ensure that their employees are receiving the top care and protection they need against harmful blue light and UV light to maintain or improve their eye health for many years.
Jonathan Ormsby is a senior manager – U.S. Managed Care for Transitions Optical.