Routine tests can uncover chronic conditions
Some people believe the eyes are a window into the soul. In the medical community, they can also serve as a window into a patient's overall health. In addition to vision problems, comprehensive eye exams can help identify other chronic conditions, and may even lead to improved health and reduced costs.
According to a study by Human Capital Management Services Group (HCMS), vision exams conducted by eye doctors detected signs of three common conditions before any of their other doctors noted the condition. Their research found 65 percent of patients with high cholesterol, 30 percent of patients with hypertension and 20 percent of patients with diabetes received early treatment for their conditions as a result of routine eye exams.
That's because a comprehensive eye exam gives doctors an unobstructed view of the body's blood vessels in the retina, which can show signs of damage or blockage caused by these conditions. Vision screenings also can reveal signs of multiple sclerosis, by identifying abnormal pupil responses and decreased visual acuity, and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis based on signs of inflammation in the eye.
Seeing the Benefits
The health benefits for individuals are clear. It's also important to note that employers who offer integrated eye health and medical benefits, along with workplace wellness programs, enjoy benefits as well, including reduced medical care costs.
The HCMS study found that employees with a vision plan are three times more likely to get their eyes examined every year than they are to get a checkup with their primary care provider. And with more than three-quarters of Wisconsin residents suffering from high cholesterol and a quarter with high blood pressure, that line of defense is key to getting them care when their conditions are more easily manageable. Early detection also increases the likelihood that employees will see a doctor, get follow-up care and be more proactive about taking care of their health.
Employers who offer vision benefits saw even greater savings with 7 percent less absenteeism and 4 percent less employee turnover than those who didn't offer similar benefits. Plus, they saved on insurance and workers' comp costs, according to the HCMS study.