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Vision insurance has grown into a benefits staple over the last few decades, quickly gaining popularity among employers. In fact, new research from the Society for Human Resource Management says 88% of U.S. employers offer it — an increase of 5% within the last four years. Employee participation rates are on the rise, too, with over 80% of employees signing up for vision benefits when offered through the workplace.

Employers, and their employees, are seeing the benefits of vision coverage more clearly, and there are four reasons why.

1. Screen time

One driver of heightened interest in vision coverage is the amount of screen time involved in day-to-day activities. For lots of workers, their entire workday involves a digital screen, increasing their risk for digital eye strain.

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Staring at a screen for just a few hours at a time can cause straining of the eyes. The Vision Council reports that nearly 65% of adults in the United States experience digital eye strain symptoms like headaches or blurred vision, and neck or shoulder pain. This type of physical discomfort can impact productivity, leading to higher rates of absenteeism, which can be costly for employers.

Regular visits to an eye doctor, along with education on how to manage symptoms of digital eye strain, can prevent symptoms from limiting productivity or turning into more serious vision conditions.

2. The impact of vision loss

Vision loss has serious consequences. The social and economic toll of vision loss includes suffering and discomfort, loss of productivity, disability and diminished standard of living. Some people who suffer from vision loss also report depression and cognitive decline of basic functions, such as limited reading and/or driving. The physical and emotional toll that vision loss can have on a worker is a costly expense for both the employee and the employer.

Proper vision care, such as routine eye exams, protective eyewear and cleaning contact lenses correctly, can help preserve eye sight. The right vision correction prescription can also help preserve eye sight and improve a person’s overall quality of life, as well as the employee’s productivity.

3. Routine vision exams can catch serious health concerns

Regular eye exams can also aid in the early detection of several health concerns, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, brain tumors, glaucoma and cataracts, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Cancer Society.

Employees may have ample time to correct issues, if spotted early enough, before they develop into more serious health conditions like heart disease, stroke or cancer. Early detection and diagnosis of these conditions can also make treatment more manageable and less costly.

4. Investing in preventive care makes good business sense

According to the Vision Council of America, approximately 75% of adults use some sort of vision correction. With more workers than ever considering the importance of affordable benefits, providing access to quality coverage and workplace wellness can help employers with recruitment and retention efforts, while also meeting their business goals.

Managing the rising costs of health care is a major challenge for employers; however, it’s important to realize that even voluntary group vision plans are meaningful to employees. The workplace remains the most affordable place to buy standalone vision coverage. And, vision health can be easily incorporated into an existing wellness program of any size.

Vision insurance is not only an investment in the employees’ vision health, it’s also a way to maintain the overall health and well-being of employees, improve worker productivity and safeguard the employer’s bottom line.

— Read Maximizing Employees’ Health and Financial Wellness in 2018 Starts Now on ThinkAdvisor.


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