“Eye” Can See If You Are Healthy

According to a recent study cited by Employee Benefit News, one unexpected benefit of a vision care program is that employees with vision benefits have eye exams more frequently than a standard health assessment or “physical.” Specifically, with an optimally-designed (but not necessarily costly) vision plan, more than half of  Americans with a vision care plan will see their eye doctor annually.  For those without a vision plan, less than 21% of Americans will get annual physicals.

What does that have to do with overall physical health? Plenty.

Eye exams play a crucial role in supporting overall health because the eyes provide the only non-invasive and clear view of blood vessels without puncturing skin.  

Because optometrists can (and do) look at blood vessels during an eye exam, they can help identify symptoms of – and manage – a variety of conditions that might not otherwise be detected until there are other symptoms.

In particular, an eye doctor can detect signs of more than 30 chronic diseases by seeing changes in blood vessels, as well as representative brain cells in the optic nerve.

By examining the eyes, an optometrist can often detect symptoms of chronic conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes. Indeed, in some cases, an eye exam can lead to the detection of a diabetic condition up to seven years sooner than with standard testing.