Uncorrected Vision Problems Cost Employers Billions

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Vision Problems

Vision problems, affecting 120 million Americans, carry a hefty price tag for American businesses.

As a result, employers see a huge decrease in productivity, costing an estimated $8 billion annually and employees have lower job satisfaction.

"Costs associated with vision disorders exceed similar medical expenditures for breast cancer, lung cancer and HIV," said Ed Greene, CEO of VCA.

VCA's state-by-state analysis of the economic burden associated with vision disorders finds:

-- In 17 states the annual financial burden of vision disorders exceeds $1 billion, and in 15 additional states, that burden exceeds $500 million;

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-- States representing the largest cost burden are: California ($5.5 billion), Florida ($3.9 billion), New York ($3.6 billion), Texas ($3.1 billion), Pennsylvania ($2.7 billion), Illinois ($2.2 billion), Ohio ($2.1 billion), Michigan ($1.8 billion), New Jersey ($1.6 billion) and North Carolina ($1.4 billion).

"The good news is that because of these high costs, healthy vision is increasingly being recognized as an important health issue in the workplace," said Greene. In fact, the federal government has set a precedent by adding vision coverage to its new health plan which launched in November 2006.

Other findings in the report include:

-- An estimated 11 million Americans have uncorrected vision problems, ranging from refractive errors (near- or far-sightedness) to sight- threatening diseases such as glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration.

-- There are nearly 800,000 work-related eye injuries each year, 90 percent of which are preventable.

-- Nearly 90 percent of those who use a computer at least three hours a day suffer vision problems associated with computer related eye strain.

-- Employers gain as much as $7 for every $1 spent on vision coverage.

"Regular eye exams are the best way to maintain employee vision health," continued Greene. "Increased productivity and accuracy as well as higher job satisfaction are just a few of the payoffs one receives from healthy vision. Therefore, it is crucial that both employers and employees make healthy vision a priority through preventive vision care and offering effective vision benefits in the workplace."

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