The British Heart Foundation’s Director of Innovation in Health and Wellbeing, Jenny Hargrave, has asserted that tackling blood pressure is crucial to improving the nation’s heart health*. High Blood pressure is the largest known risk factor for cardiovascular disease and affects more than one in four adults in England. According to the British Heart Foundation, for every ten people diagnosed with high blood pressure, seven remain undiagnosed and therefore, go untreated. This figure accounts for more than 5.5 million people in England. High Blood pressure can be detected during routine eye examinations, making employee eyecare an even more vital aspect of health and wellbeing.
Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, said: ‘High blood pressure is known as the ‘silent killer’ as it can be a symptomless condition, which puts people at greater risk of heart attacks and strokes. Visiting your GP is one way to check blood pressure levels but an eye examination is another non-invasive option. While not all employers will send their employees for an MOT with a GP, the vast majority of employees are likely to be receiving company-funded eyecare anyway, under the Health and Safety Display Screen Equipment (DSE) regulations.’
Providing employees with eyecare will not only assess the eyesight and check for eye conditions like glaucoma and cataracts, it also enables the optometrist to detect and monitor systemic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. Knowing about high blood pressure can be the key to preventing and treating the problem, as it can often be controlled with simple lifestyle changes.
The British Heart Foundation is working in conjunction with Public Health England to tackle the problem of undiagnosed high blood pressure but employers too have a role to play.
Specsavers Corporate Eyecare is urging all employers to review their eyecare policy. Jim Lythgow said: ‘With so many employees entitled to company-funded eyecare anyway, it may make sense for employers to implement a blanket policy and to provide all employees with eyecare. The small financial implication of this is likely to be far outweighed by the gains in the health and wellbeing of employees. For those companies that already provide inclusive eyecare, it is important to continue to communicate the benefits to employees and to ensure that they are taking up their entitlement and visiting the optician at least every two years.’