Routine eye examinations save 50 lives in 2015

Employers play a vital role

Figures released today by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare show just how vital a role is played by employers in the health and wellbeing of their employees.

At least 50 lives have been saved in 2015 so far through routine visits to Specsavers’ opticians, highlighting the far-reaching benefits of a simple eyecare policy.

All of the 50 individuals were simply visiting their optician to have their eyesight checked. In each case, the eye examination led to the detection of a life-threatening condition, which was subsequently successfully treated.

Employers’ role

Jim Lythgow, head of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, says: ‘Virtually every employee is entitled to company-funded eyecare under health and safety regulations. The number of lives saved by routine eye examinations just goes to show how vital it is for employers to provide this benefit and for employees to make use of the provision.’

Wider benefits

Employees who use a computer screen, drive for work purposes or require PPE, should all be provided with eyecare; which leaves very few employees not covered. While some may feel that their vision itself is not an issue, there are much wider benefits to eyecare: digital retinal screening is an important element in preventative care and allows the optometrist to detect and monitor the many serious illnesses and health conditions, including:

  • diabetes
  • various heart conditions
  • cancers of the eye, such as melanomas
  • brain tumours
  • high cholesterol
  • detached retina
  • hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • glaucoma

Retinal screening is included where necessary within each eyecare voucher from Specsavers Corporate Eyecare. The examples of these lives saved show how crucial eyecare can be to an employee’s overall health and wellbeing. The benefits are felt by the employer too, with the Office of National Statistics stating, for example, that 500,000 working days are lost each year through heart, blood pressure and circulation problems[1].

Case study

Jonathan Daly went for a check-up at his local Specsavers store after noticing a rapid deterioration in his eyesight. He did a lot of driving at night for work purposes and put the problem down to eyestrain. Specsavers optometrist, David Hill, conducted an eye examination and immediately referred Jonathan to hospital, where doctors found a brain tumour the size of a golf ball. Jonathan is now recovering well: ‘My sight is better than three years ago. I can’t thank Specsavers enough.’

Two million people in the UK living with sight loss

Almost two million people in the UK are living with sight loss – which equates to approximately one person in 30 – and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) predicts that number is set to increase dramatically in the future.

Clinical spokesperson

Dr Nigel Best, Specsavers clinical spokesperson, says: ‘A lot of people don’t realise how much we can detect through their eyes. There’s still a relatively low awareness about retinal screening technology, which can be used to detect anything from high blood pressure to diabetes.’

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[1] Office for National Statistics - Sickness Absence in the Labour Market, 2014