New Study Finds Eye Exams' Role in Detection of Chronic Diseases, Savings for Employers

New Study Finds Eye Exams' Role in Detection of Chronic Diseases, Savings for Employers April 22, 2011 12:30 AM


RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif.—A new study released this week shows that eye exams are often the first to detect chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension. Conducted by Human Capital Management Services Group (HCMS), a national human capital consulting firm, and commissioned by VSP Vision Care, the study found that eye doctors detected signs of certain chronic conditions before any other health care provider recorded the condition—65 percent of the time for high cholesterol, 20 percent of the time for diabetes, and 30 percent of the time for hypertension.

When the study was applied to VSP’s entire membership of 56 million, the following received early treatment for chronic diseases as a result of their eye exam:

• 65 percent of the 2.2 million members with high cholesterol (1.5 million), resulting in two year savings of $1.7 billion

• 20 percent of 1.5 million members with diabetes (296,800), resulting in two year savings of $827 million

• 30 percent of 2.2 million members with hypertension (667,800), resulting in two year savings of $2 billion

“With the national healthcare system focused on prevention and early detection, annual eye exams play a critical role in detecting signs of chronic diseases even at the beginning stages as eye doctors have the only unobstructed, non-invasive view of blood vessels,” said Susan Egbert, director of eye health management, VSP Vision Care. “Additionally, individuals who have a VSP vision plan are three times more likely to get an annual eye exam than a routine, preventive physical, making it a critical component of overall health and wellness.”

HCMS matched medical condition data for over 200,000 members covered by VSP Vision Care, spanning two years to medical and pharmacy data obtained from the clients’ medical and drug carriers. HCMS compared chronic patients who were first identified by VSP Vision Care against those who entered the health care system via traditional means.

The study included six large commercial clients with a total of 212,000 members.

The study also concluded that eyecare benefits saved VSP’s 38,000 clients

—for profits, not-for-profits and government organizations—$4.5 billion through the early detection of chronic diseases via an eye exam. For every $1 invested in VSP exam services

—which include comprehensive, annual eye exams

—during an employee’s first year with the benefit, employers average a two-year total return of $1.27 in long-term health care savings. These savings are a result of avoided medical costs and increased employee productivity.

VSP Vision Care's vision plan facilitates nationwide, HIPAA-compliant data collection and exchange through the VSP Eye Health Management Program. With a research reference database of more than 2.2 million employees and their families who are actively enrolled in a health plan, HCMS maintains comprehensive data catalogue containing medical and prescription costs, absenteeism, disability, workers’ compensation, and productivity costs. The study identified more than 9,000 VSP members who were first identified with early signs of diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol by a VSP doctor. To view this study, visit

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