Protect your most valuable asset during open enrollment and beyond: The importance of an annual eye exam
(BPT) - When was the last time you had an eye exam? If you can't remember, it's time to make an appointment. Even if your vision seems fine, it's important to get an eye exam every year.
It helps to have anchor points throughout the year that serve as reminders for things like important appointments! For example, open enrollment season is the best time to assess what coverage you have and should use before the year ends and what you might need as you’re planning ahead. If you miss your open enrollment, you still have options with individual plans that can be purchased anytime, like VSP® Individual Vision Plans. Most VSP plans include a fully covered eye exam, a frame allowance and a variety of lenses options.
Most people assume that if they're healthy and their vision is good, they must have healthy eyes. However, an annual eye exam can catch signs of other health conditions early, when treatment may be most effective.
An annual eye exam keeps more than your eyes healthy
During an annual eye exam, your eye doctor can assess the health of your eyes through a series of tests to assess your vision and check for eye diseases. One of the most familiar tests is the eye chart that has rows of letters that get smaller and smaller, which are used to measure the sharpness of your vision. Other vision tests will evaluate your field of vision, pupils' reactions to light, eye alignment and much more.
When an eye exam includes dilatation of the pupils, it allows your eye doctor to see into the back of the eye (e.g., blood vessels) where evidence of 273 chronic diseases can be detected even before other physical symptoms emerge, ranging from high cholesterol and high blood pressure to some types of cancer and kidney disease.
Most commonly, this test can help detect diabetes-related eye disease. In fact, one in five people with diabetes discovered their disease through an eye exam. Diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss in adults ages 18-64, and there are often no obvious signs or symptoms.
Is your eye exam covered?
So why do many Americans forgo an annual eye exam when it can do so much for overall health? Unfortunately, some employer-sponsored plans don’t include routine vision coverage. Or, if you’re retired and eligible for Medicare, some Original Medicare plans don't include routine vision coverage and thus do not cover an annual eye exam.
According to Review of Optometric Business, only 50.3% of U.S. adults have some type of vision insurance or managed vision care coverage. Without insurance, affording an annual eye exam and glasses can be a financial burden. Also, while some plans offer some vision coverage, you may find that not all eye care exams or materials like glasses and contacts are covered by your insurance plan.
What to look for this Open Enrollment Season
Open enrollment season is a great time to see what vision coverage options your insurance offers, if at all. You may decide you need to supplement your coverage with a separate vision plan.
Good news is there are easy options if you’re not covered or to supplement your current insurance specifically for eye care, such as VSP Individual Vision Plans. These flexible, convenient, affordable vision plans range from $13 to $30 depending on plan choice, but all cover your annual eye exam and offer a generous frame allowance. Even if you miss open enrollment, you don’t have to worry because you can get vision benefits with VSP anytime. You can even cover yourself and other family members under the same plan and only pay for what you need. Best of all, your benefits can begin the same day you buy a plan and can complement existing Medicare coverage.*
Don't wait until you experience vision issues to schedule an eye exam; it’s one of the easiest things you can do to take care of your eye health and your overall health. See VSP Individual Vision Plan options available in your state at VSPDirect.com.
*Check your Medicare Plan to see if your vision care needs are covered and/or if a VSP Individual Vision Plan is right for you. VSP Vision Care does not coordinate benefits with Medicare.