Making sure employees get regular, thorough eye exams can improve the employees’ overall health.

Vision Service Plan Inc. (VSP), Rancho Cordova, Calif., says a consulting firm analyzed VSP plans at 6 large commercial clients that agreed to provide medical plan data. The clients’ plans had a total of 212,000 VSP enrollees.

Eye doctors were often the first doctors to detect signs that the enrollees had important chronic medical conditions, VSP says.

Eye doctors were the first detectors for 65% of the VSP enrollees who turned out to have high cholesterol, and they were the first detectors for 20% of the enrollees with diabetes and 30% of the enrollees with high blood pressure.

If that detection rate holds for all 56 million VSP enrollees, and the enrollees then get appropriate care for the chronic conditions, early detection and treatment of major chronic conditions could lower the enrollees’ total benefits costs by about $4.5 billion over 2 years, the consulting firm estimated.

- Allison Bell

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