Industry Trends – Don’t Lose Sight of Vision Benefits

Industry Trends – Don’t Lose Sight of Vision Benefits

Vision insurance sales experienced double-digit growth between 2013 and 2015, contributing to an overall growth trend in voluntary benefits (according to an industry survey conducted by LIMRA, a worldwide consulting firm for insurance and financial services).  In fact, eighty-one percent of employees have elected vision benefits in 2016 and that has moved vision into a virtual tie with dental as the second most popular benefit election behind medical.

And the utilization of multiple media and digital devices increases, for both work and entertainment, so does our exposure to a condition known as ‘digital eye strain.’

According to a new report by The Vision Council, 65 percent of Americans experience digital eye strain symptoms, such as dry, irritated eyes, blurred vision, eye fatigue, neck and back pain, and headaches, from gazing at digital screens. Everyone reading this on their computer, tablet or smartphone is potentially at risk.  Physicians and eye doctors alike have expressed that human eyes aren’t designed to spend 10 – 12 hours a day looking up close to small, digital screens.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology offers the following tips for reducing digital eye strain in your employees:

  • Sit about 25 inches from the computer screen and position the screen so your eye gaze is slightly downward
  • Reduce glare from the screen by lighting the area properly; use a screen filter if needed
  • Post a note that says “Blink!” on the computer as a reminder
  • Use artificial tears to refresh your eyes when they feel dry
  • Take regular breaks from computer work, and try to get enough sleep at night

Employees should also be maintaining good preventive eye health by using their insurance for reasons beyond digital eye strain.  The eyes are a ‘window of overall health.’  According to an article in Employee Benefit News by Dr. Linda Chous, (Chief Eye Care Officer at UnitedHealthcare) “regular eye exams play an important role in identifying and managing serious conditions, including diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, multiple sclerosis and some tumors.”

Dr. Chous goes on to note that integrated approaches to vision and medical benefits are in place that can help support patients and health care professionals with information, decisions, and outcomes that create better opportunities for complete care to an individual.  These programs have a variety of features, such as:

  • Eye Care practitioners coding claims with chronic condition categories, which would automatically enroll members into disease management programs
  • Patients with certain conditions (diabetes and hypertension) can be notified with a phone call about the importance of their annual eye exam
  • For patients who may have chronic conditions, eye care practitioners can use specially designed online forms to refer directly to specialists that can treat their condition for better coordination of care

Kistler Tiffany Benefits understands your desire as an employer to help protect and improve your employees’ health, which in turn, influences their overall productivity and their well-being. Those at risk and experiencing the biggest threat of digital eye strain in our new ‘technology age’ is our young people (73% affected among adults under age 30). Taking action and providing benefits that help protect employees’ eye health is as important a coverage now as any other benefit offered.

Please contact your Kistler Tiffany Benefits’ Employee Benefits Consultant with questions.