NEW YORK, N.Y., Dec. 3, 2019 – Forty three percent of American workers self-reported that their vision has worsened in the past three years, with this number rising to 58% among heavy screen users (13+ hours a day), according to Guardian Life’s 7th Annual 2019 Workplace Benefits Study titled, “Coming Into Focus: The Role of Vision Benefits and Eye Care in Health & Wellness.”1 However, many Americans may not visit the eye doctor regularly especially if they haven’t noticed a change to their vision, and many adults may be unaware that a comprehensive vision exam can help uncover other health conditions.
“Eyes may be the window to the soul, but they are also the window to the whole body—a simple dilated eye exam not only provides information about an individual’s eye health but can also detect more than 30 systemic diseases,” said Dr. Daniel B. Levy, O.D., CPHM, Chief Optometric Officer of Guardian Life. “It is critical employers offer vision benefits and promote annual eye exams among their workforce, which could potentially help detect a bigger health issue.”
In Guardian Life’s study, U.S. workers indicated they spend an average of 11.8 hours per day looking at computers, phones, tablets, televisions, video games, and other electronic devices. According to the American Optometric Association, up to 90% of computer users may suffer from computer vision syndrome, including eye strain, dry eyes, eye irritation, blurred vision, and double vision.2 This underscores the need to educate American workers about steps they can take to practice good vision hygiene, including regular eye exams, updating corrective eyewear prescriptions, and wearing lenses while looking at screens that protect eyes from blue and ultraviolet rays.
Adds Levy: “Vision benefits help mitigate the out-of-pocket costs associated with exams, corrective eyewear, and blue block lens technology, which workers of all ages appreciate having access to through their employers.”
Among adults without a vision plan, cost is the top reason for avoiding eye exams, and having a plan can have a big impact on visiting an optometrist. Guardian Life’s study found adults with vision plans are twice as likely to have regular eye exams (65% vs. 32%) than those without the benefit. While seven in 10 employers offer these benefits, certain segments of the workforce are less likely to have coverage, such as those who work for smaller firms, the hospitality industry, and lower earning
industries (income of less than $50,000 per year). Not having access to a vision plan can lead individuals to skip regular eye exams, and neglected eye health can lead to vision damage and problems. Research has shown a connection between vision health and work productivity, with even minor vision issues causing reduced worker productivity by up to 20%.3
In today’s strong economy, employers are looking for ways to attract and retain talent and offering vision benefits can be one of the ways to do that, with 70% of Guardian Life’s respondents indicating vision benefits are “very important.” As more jobs require their employees to use screens, the nation’s eye health will continue to be impacted, making it more important than ever for Americans to get regular eye exams.
To learn more about Guardian Life’s 7th Annual Workplace Benefits Study, “Coming Into Focus: The Role of Vision Benefits and Eye Care in Health & Wellness,” click here.
Employee results are nationally representative and based on a survey conducted of 2,000 employees aged 22 or older, who work full-time for a company with at least five employees. The 7th Annual Workplace Benefits Study was fielded in the spring of 2019.
Every day, Guardian provides Americans the security they deserve through our insurance and wealth management products and services. Since our founding in 1860, our long-term view has helped our customers prepare for whatever life brings whether starting a family, planning for the future or taking care of employees. Today, we're a Fortune 250 mutual company and a leading provider of life, disability, dental, and other benefits for individuals, at the workplace and through government sponsored programs. The Guardian community of 9,500 employees and our network of over 2,700 financial representatives is committed to serving with expertise when, where and how our clients need us. Our commitments rest on a strong financial foundation, which at year-end 2018 included $8.5 billion in capital and $1.6 billion in operating income. For more information, please visit guardianlife.com or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.
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