Often, eye doctors are the first health care providers to detect signs of chronic health problems by carefully examining the structures of the eye during a comprehensive eye exam. This is because, during a detailed examination, optometrists and ophthalmologists can evaluate the condition of tiny blood vessels in the eye, which provides clues to how blood vessels throughout the body are possibly being affected by conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and elevated cholesterol levels.
And early detection of these health problems during an eye exam can enable early treatment to improve quality of life and significantly reduce costs associated with managing these conditions.
A recently commissioned large-scale study of one insurance carrier determined the amount of cost savings provided by early detection of health conditions made possible by routine comprehensive eye exams.
The study revealed:
- 30 percent of 2.2 million members with hypertensive changes detected during an eye exam received early treatment, for an estimated two-year cost savings of $2 billion.
- 65 percent of 2.2 million members with high cholesterol who had their condition detected during a routine eye exam received early treatment, for an estimated two-year cost savings of $1.7 billion.
- 20 percent of 1.5 million members with diabetes noted during their eye exam received early treatment, for a two-year cost savings of $827 million.
Though an eye exam is no substitute for a routine physical examination by your family physician, having routine eye exams are a very valuable part of your health care and may enable the early detection and treatment of serious problems that could benefit your health and well-being.