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Home arrow Resources arrow Articles arrow Vision Insurance Linked to Better Eye Health

Vision Insurance Linked to Better Eye Health

Obtaining vision insurance is linked to an increased likelihood of getting important eye health check-ups as well as overall better vision when compared to not having vision insurance coverage. This is the finding of a new study by researchers out of the University of South Carolina.

The Study Findings

Specifically, people with vision insurance were more likely to have had a visit with an eye-care professional in the preceding year than those who did not have vision coverage. More than 64 percent of the insured had visited an eye-care professional in the preceding year versus 43.3 percent who didn't have coverage.

The individuals who had vision insurance were not only more likely to have had an eye care visit in the past year, but also reported having less trouble reading or identifying their friends that were across the street.

The Study Details

The study participants included 27,152 working-age adults between the ages of 40 and 64 years who completed a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Behavioral Risk Factor Survey. Of this group, approximately 11 percent had a vision condition of either macular degeneration, cataracts, or glaucoma. Approximately 40 percent of the respondents had no insurance coverage for vision.

The study was carried out by Sudha Xiragar, an Arnold School of Public Health's Department of Health Services Policy and Management professor and MBBS, PhD, of the University of South Carolina in Columbia, and Yi-Jhen Li, a doctoral candidate in the program.

The findings of the study are published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, a Journal of the American Medical Association network publication.

The Importance of Vision Insurance

The study highlights a concerning fact that a large percentage of adults aged 40 to 64 -- more than 11 percent -- suffer from a serious eye condition, including glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration -- all of which can lead to blindness.

"Lack of vision insurance impedes eye care utilization, which, in turn, may irrevocably affect vision," said Xiragar.

What's more, as the population ages, the risk of developing these serious eye conditions increases. Thus, routine eye exams become even more important to potentially impede an eye condition that could cause permanent partial vision loss, or worse, blindness. Early detection of these eye conditions through eye examinations play a critical role to ensure healthy sight.

Routine eye exams can also detect other serious health conditions, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and brain tumors.

What Vision Insurance Covers

The majority of vision policies cover most, if not all, services provided by eye care professionals, including optometrists and ophthalmologists. Most vision plans cover an annual eye exam, which is key to early detection of a serious eye condition. Most vision policies also provide some coverage for contacts and glasses. Further, some vision plans help members to save on other eye care products and services, such as contact lens solution, nonprescription sunglasses, and LASIK surgery. It is best to read through your vision plan coverage to take full advantage of its benefits.

The Study's Implication

Study author Xirasagar is hoping that the findings of this study propel the adoption of vision screen for adults aged 40 years of age and over as a basic preventative eye health service. Currently, vision coverage is not required for adults. It is, however, a mandatory coverage for children pursuant to the Affordable Care Act.

While routine eye exams are advised to detect, diagnose and treat various vision conditions that can lead to vision impairment or vision loss, vision insurance is typically not included as part of a medical insurance plans. Because vision insurance for adults is typically not included as part of a standard medical health insurance plan, it is important for employees to purchase a standalone, supplemental vision insurance plan.

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