Employers unaware of full health benefits of eye care
Workplace eye care offers a huge range of wider benefits besides checking vision and enabling employers to meet health and safety regulations. Specsavers Corporate Eyecare has carried out detailed research with over 500 UK companies to find out how much employers know about the illnesses and conditions which eye care can help to detect1.
The survey asked: with which of these conditions do you believe eye care can aid with the detection? The results were as follows:
Condition Percentage Glaucoma 60 % Cataracts 60 % Diabetes 38 % Macular degeneration 38 % High blood pressure 35 % Brain tumours 24 % High cholesterol 20 % Cardiovascular disease 11 % Dementia 8 % Arthritis 5 % All of the above 10 % None of the above 5 %
While the majority of employers understood that eye care can assess the health of the eyes and detect eye-related conditions like glaucoma and cataracts, far fewer were aware of the much more extensive reach of an eye examination. In fact, just 10% of respondents were correct in answering that eye care can aid in the detection of all of the conditions listed above.
Detection of serious conditions Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, said: ’Eye care can have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of employees. There are numerous conditions that can be detected early and non-invasively by an eye examination. These include potentially very serious illnesses like diabetes and cardio vascular disease. This is due to the ability to view the small blood vessels at the back of the eye, changes in which reflect changes in the blood vessels elsewhere in the body.
Many of the illnesses that are identifiable through an eye test are symptomless in their initial stages, early detection of which can make a big difference to treatment and outcome. Eye care can therefore be a simple, low cost, yet vital aspect of employee health care.’
With changes in the health and demographics of the working population, the benefits of eye care are likely to become even more significant:
Diabetes Diabetes is a growing issue in the UK. According to Diabetes UK, more people than ever have diabetes, more people than ever are at risk of type 2 diabetes and, if nothing changes, more than 5 million people will have diabetes in the UK by 20252. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes but does not usually cause any symptoms in its early stages. A simple eye examination could give employees early warning of the disease and a greater chance of changing the outcome.
Dementia Dementia UK estimates that the number of people living with dementia in the UK by 2025 will rise to over 1 million. Rates of diagnosis are improving but many people with dementia are thought to still be undiagnosed and accurate diagnosis as early as possible is vital.3 With an aging workforce, dementia is likely to become a bigger problem for employers but just 8% of respondents, 39 out of over 500 employers, understood that eye care can help with the detection of dementia.
’Eye care could be the answer to a great many health and wellbeing issues in the workplace, commented Jim Lythgow. ‘By instigating low-cost eye care for all, employers could save themselves a fortune in the long term, while also helping to ensure the welfare of their employees.’