Why Employees Need Eye Exams and Premium Vision Benefit Plans
BY JONATHAN ORMSBY
With many workers continuing to experience visual demands on their eyes, from blurry vision to eye fatigue to headaches, taking care of eye health remains an extremely important part of our overall health. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 11 million Americans over age 12 need vision correction, but that is only one of the reasons to get your eyes examined. Regular eye exams are also an important part of finding eye diseases — and overall health conditions early and preserving health. As we look ahead to the future, the number of blind and visually impaired people in the United States is estimated to double by 2030 and triple by 2050. Urging people to prioritize their vision health as part of their overall well-being could significantly reduce that number and improve quality of life for millions of Americans and employee productivity. (Centers for Disease Control “Keep an Eye on Your Vision Health” Oct. 1, 2020)
EYE EXAMS – THE WINDOW TO OUR OVERALL HEALTH
One of the easiest and most cost-effective early detection areas for serious illness is the eye exam. For example, one in five people with diabetes discovered their disease through an eye exam. (Harvard Business Review. “Why Vision Care Belongs at the Core of Your Company’s Healthcare Benefits” Oct. 24, 2022) According to Transitions Optical’s 2022 Workplace Wellness Survey, employees are knowledgeable about the eye health conditions they believe can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam; however, they are not as knowledgeable about overall health conditions that can be diagnosed through an eye exam. Of the employees who have access to vision benefits, respondents understood that cataracts (65%) and glaucoma (63%) could be diagnosed through an eye exam but were not as confident in their knowledge of overall health conditions being diagnosed through an eye exam, such as diabetes (29%), hypertension (25%), brain tumors (16%), and heart disease (13%). (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.) Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes, and early detection and treatment can prevent or delay blindness in 90% of people with diabetes. However, 50% or more of people do not get their eyes examined or are diagnosed too late for effective treatment. (Centers for Disease Control “Keep an Eye on Your Vision Health” Oct. 1, 2020)
To preserve eye health an annual visit to the eye doctor is key, and the solution is simple — employees need access to vision benefits.
THE VALUE OF VISION BENEFITS FOR PRODUCTIVITY, RETENTION AND EYE HEALTH
What people and companies may fail to remember is vision benefits are an important investment in our overall health. According to Harvard Business Review, while many people may understand the general importance of an eye exam, and 84% of people consider vision their most important sense, half still skip their annual eye exam. In 2020 vision problems cost U.S. employers $575 billion in lost productivity, however many companies do not offer their employees vision care or encourage them to take advantage of the benefits they have. (Harvard Business Review. “Why Vision Care Belongs at the Core of Your Company’s Healthcare Benefits” Oct. 24, 2022) Since the start of the pandemic, employees have noticed a negative impact on their eye health and productivity throughout the workday. The Transitions Workplace Wellness Survey found that 78% of employees report their work productivity and performance has been impacted by either eye strain/eye fatigue (50%), headaches (39%), blurry vision (36%), discomfort looking at bright screens (33%), and/or difficulty focusing on distance objects upon looking up from the screen (33%). Light sensitivity and digital eye strain can also lead to many problems for employees while at work, ranging from trouble seeing, to headaches, to even taking excessive breaks. According to AEIS, eye strain will, on average, lower an employee’s productivity by fifteen working minutes each day — amounting to around 65 hours of productivity lost over the course of one year.
Increased symptoms of eyestrain and discomfort are likely factors in employees looking to eyewear as a potential solution. By including ancillary benefits, like vision insurance that covers eyewear and premium lens options, companies can reduce overall coverage costs, help preserve employee eye health and maintain productivity. Companies don’t have to break the bank; providing vision insurance is a lower cost benefit, sometimes costing as little as ten dollars monthly per employee. (AEIS Advisors. “Is Vision Insurance Worth It?” Aug. 01, 2022)
And while vision benefits can help employees access eye exams, gain relief from eye strain, and increase their productivity, it also helps companies retain their employees. The current job market, “The Great Resignation, and “Quiet Quitting” are continuing to affect companies. Research from the Transitions Workplace Wellness Survey found that 38% of employees are reporting they are likely to leave their current job in the next year. Additionally, 74% of employees who receive vision benefits say the loss of those benefits would be a very important factor in choosing to resign.
Employers who offer premium vision benefits that cover both annual, dilated eye exams and eyewear options that employees both want and need can help them stand out against other companies and their competitors.
By investing in vision benefits, organizations can offer support to their workforce’s overall wellness, retain top talent, and boost productivity. By offering vision benefits and reducing health care costs overall, companies can focus their efforts on other important budgetary factors for their employees that can only lead to a bright future.
JONATHAN ORMSBY is a senior key account manager for Transitions
Optical. Reach out to him at email@example.com.