Small employee benefit, big health benefit

Research results released by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare today reveal how a small employee benefit can have big health benefits.

Of the 125 heads of UK companies surveyed by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, 68% knew that a full eye examination has the possibility of detecting and monitoring eye conditions. (The assumption is that the remaining 32% believing an eye examination is purely capable of testing how well people can see.) Just 44% thought it could help with the detection of diabetes, with an equal 44% believing it could detect high blood pressure and 37% that it could detect certain heart conditions. In fact, an eye examination can aid with the detection of all of these serious health conditions, as well as raised cholesterol, brain tumours, arthritis, thyroid problems and more.

Costing from just £17 for DSE eyecare - which is obligatory anyway for ‘screen users’ under Health and Safety regulations - workplace eyecare is relatively low-cost. With eyecare eVouchers available for the management, distribution and redemption of eyecare, it is also a low-administration employee benefit. The research and related health facts from Specsavers Corporate Eyecare show, however, that it may have a disproportionately larger positive impact than realised by many employers.

In fact, eyecare can even be life-saving. In 2015, some 50 people had their lives saved following routine eye examinations at Specsavers. In each case they were simply visiting their optician to have their eyesight checked, but this routine process detected signs of life-threatening conditions, which were later diagnosed and successfully treated.    

Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances for Specsavers Corporate Eyecare comments: ‘When it comes to value for money, eyecare is hugely effective in the workplace. It is such a simple and cost-effective benefit, but one which can have such all-encompassing positive outcomes.’

The research also shows that eyecare could benefit businesses in terms of less serious health concerns too. Over a third (35%) of employers reported that employees regularly suffer from headaches, 26% were aware of regular issues with migraines and 25% were aware of employees regularly suffering with eyestrain and/or dry eyes. 15% were aware of medical visual conditions like cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and 10% stated blurred vision. These are all conditions that may be directly related to optical issues and where eyecare may be able to help. Furthermore, these are also all conditions that may greatly affect productivity in the workplace.

Dr Nigel Best, professional services consultant at Specsavers, says:

‘Referrals to save someone’s sight are quite common. They could be for glaucoma, retinal detachment, retinal artery or vein occlusions, types of age related macular degeneration (AMD) and numerous other conditions.

‘Choroidal melanoma (a retinal tumour) and squamous cell carcinoma (a tumour often found on the eyelid) are both potentially life-threatening conditions. Significantly, these can both be asymptomatic in the early stages, so the patient is likely to have no idea they are suffering from the illness. In such cases, early referral by an optometrist to a medical practitioner could, quite literally, save a patient’s life.’

Health, wellbeing and preventative care may be the buzzwords of today, but many employers are not aware how pivotal a role the seemingly simple eyetest can have in these areas.