Throughout the year many Texans make the time for a routine visit to their physician and dentist, and rightly so. But one fundamental area of our health that can unfortunately be overlooked is vision.
May is Healthy Vision Month and an excellent reminder that eyecare should be a top priority for all Texans. Vision care is essential health care. And In my role as Executive Director of the National Association of Vision Care Plans (NAVCP), I am committed to furthering that notion by ensuring people throughout this great state have access to exceptional vision care at an affordable price.
This is an extremely important issue because virtually every age group – from young children to the elderly, and everyone in between – requires some form of vision care. Consider that more than 80 percent of adults in the U.S. need vision correction. An aging population means that even more Texans will in the coming years need vision correction and eye exams to ensure and protect their sight.
A number of experts have expressed concerns that the rise in use of digital devices with screens will result in the need for increased vision correction at even younger ages. This is concerning because approximately three-quarters of all childhood learning is visual. Proper eye care that commences at an early age is more important than ever.
It is also worth noting that regular eye exams are an affordable, noninvasive way to detect serious medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, neuromuscular disorders and cancer. It’s staggering to think how much we could drive down healthcare costs and even save lives here in Texas and elsewhere if we are able to catch serious health issues earlier through routine eye exams.
The results of a recent study commissioned by NAVCP – the most extensive review ever of available data – indicate that consumers exhibit healthier eye care behavior when they have vision care benefits. The study found that nearly 90 percent of Americans with vision benefits planned on getting an eye exam within the next year, while 67 percent of those who did not have vision benefits had no intention of receiving an eye exam. Once the exam had been completed, almost twice as many people with a benefit planned to get new eyewear compared to those without a benefit. This data establishes a clear link between managed vision care plans and healthier vision habits. It also underscores the value of these plans for promoting better overall health.
Yet, even in the face of compelling data such as this, there have in recent years been legislative efforts in the Lone Star State that have increased consumers’ out-of-pocket costs and limited their eyewear choices. Texans deserve better.
I encourage you to observe Healthy Vision Month by getting an eye exam or accompanying a family member to the eye doctor. Take control of your vision. Now, see to it.
Julian Roberts is the Executive Director of the National Association of Vision Care Plans (NAVCP).