Eye tests can play a key part in regular employee health checks

Increasing numbers of companies are providing regular health checks as part of a flexible benefits package. And there are real advantages in making sure eye tests are included as part of this health screening process, says VSP Vision Care UK.

By including regular and comprehensive eye examinations, employers can benefit from increased productivity and reduced absenteeism says the eye-care specialist – the British arm of giant US-based eye health specialist VSP Global, a not-for-profit vision benefits and services company with almost 90 million members worldwide.

The government, too, has recognised the benefits of regular health screening for company employees and Professor Dame Sally Davies, the UK government’s chief medical officer, is one leading figure who has been trying to raise awareness of the benefits of workplace wellbeing programmes.

In her 2018 annual report, she maintains that a healthier working-age population is expected to translate into an economy with higher overall productive capacity, increased tax revenues and, subsequently, reduced spending on health-related social security payments.

Meanwhile, in the private sector, Business in the Community, a business-led charity that promotes ethical and sustainable behaviour, works with businesses to make the case for wellbeing at work and to embed wellbeing into an organisation’s culture.

One of the major benefits of making sure health screening and wellbeing programmes include eye tests as a matter of course, says VSP, is the potential reduction in employee absenteeism that can result.

Every year across Europe some 123 million workdays are lost, according to the European Forum Against Blindness, which makes a compelling case for regular and thorough eye health screening.

Meanwhile, the Vision Council argues that poor vision results in 32 times more lost productivity than absenteeism, so it is in the best interests of both employers and employees that regular and comprehensive eye examination takes place. At the same time, studies have shown that receiving glasses can increase productivity by around 35%.

Other employee benefits include the early detection of serious illness, including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Diabetes is reaching pandemic proportions in the UK and the latest figures show that there are currently 3.8 million people living with a diagnosis of diabetes and 90% of those have Type 2. A further 1m people have the condition but have not been diagnosed, according to the Diabetes UK charity.

However, research carried out by VSP Vision Care UK shows that, in carrying out eye screening of company employees, VSP optometrists were first to spot symptoms of early onset diabetes some 34% of the time – and up to seven years before any other check.

The research also revealed that VSP optometrists were first to spot signs of high blood pressure 39% of the time and high cholesterol 62% of the time.

Jeremy Chadwick, Managing Director, EMEA at VSP Vision Care, says there are multiple benefits to including a comprehensive eye examination as part of employee health checks and wellbeing programmes.

“Early detection of critical illness can help nip future problems for employees in the bud. That is why it is so important that employer-led eyecare programmes reach all employees.

“Thorough, regular examinations support early diagnosis of  conditions like diabetes and glaucoma, helping make earlier treatment possible and driving better outcomes for employees and employer alike, as well as reducing absenteeism rates.”

The right vision cover can improve employee wellness and productivity, while at the same time meeting Health and Safety Executive requirements in providing employees with access to the latest screening and eye health monitoring.

Nor need eye testing break the bank, as typical employee vision plans from VSP can be quickly self-funding in terms of reducing health care costs and improving productivity due to the very high return on investment on complete eyecare programmes.

A five year independent study by Human Capital Management Services identified a 145% return on investment on all VSP vision plans, making them not only readily affordable but eminently sensible.