Comprehensive eye exams are proving to be more than just an eye exam for many according to a study performed by Optum Health on behalf of United Healthcare.

The study reviews UnitedHealthcare members with both medical and vision eligibility in the 2011-2012 calendar years.

A comprehensive eye exam is a routine procedure that is typically given by an eye care professional (ECP) in which the eyes are dilated to look for common vision problems or diseases. Within this report, it was stated that the exam is also proven to:

  • Simplify identification of high cost chronic diseases
  • Facilitate management of diagnosed medical conditions
  • Assess the advancement of the disease and how well the disease is being controlled

It was reported that more than 4,000 chronic conditions were identified through a comprehensive eye exam and 2,600 members had at least one chronic condition identified by an ECP. The most common conditions that are found through the exam are:

Eye exam

  • Diabetes
  • High Cholesterol
  • Hypertension
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Grave’s Disease

Among the diseases listed above, diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension were the most prevalent conditions identified.

As a takeaway for employers, this study reinforces the benefits of offering vision coverage within their health plans. Vision coverage leads to reduced medical costs and improved health through the identification of chronic medical conditions.

In fact, it has been shown to save employers as the primary insurer an average of $1,200 – $1,872 per person per year, as well as a reduction of four to seven sick days and increases in work productivity.