When you think about your daily life, it is hard to imagine a more important aspect than your gift of sight. In fact, when our five main senses are listed––sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste––sight or vision is almost always listed first.
That is because we all value being able to see as one of the most important qualities in regard to our way of life, our enjoyment of life and our ability to succeed in all that we do and wish to do.
At Pivot Health, vision discounts are a built-in, value-added feature to our short-term health plans and our supplemental health insurance. These discounts can save you and your family hundreds of dollars on necessary exams, eyeglasses and contacts.
With every short-term health plan or supplemental isurance plan, members get:
- Up to a 15 percent discount on eye exams
- A 20 percent to 40 percent discount on frames, lenses, contacts and other materials and services
Whether you wear eyeglasses or contacts now or you have no current vision problems, regular eye exams are as important to you as a regular physical exam and regular dental exams and treatment. Changes in your eyes and vision can occur, and the sooner you know about any changes and receive treatment, the better you will be able to deal with the situation. In some cases, you may be able to prevent escalation of a condition.
Just like dental exams and dental care, eye exams and eye treatment are about more than you may initially think. Your eye exam can find eye diseases you might not even be aware of, and there are important indicators to your overall health found during your eye exam.
Of course, the most important part of proper eye care is to assure that you can see everything in front of you and everything you have ahead of you: your family, your job and your ability to experience all that life has to offer.
In this article, we’ll explore why eye exams are essential, how often you should get an eye exam, how to seek out the right vision care, eye diseases you should be aware of, and the impact of aging on your eyesight.
With Pivot Health, Get Discounts on the Eye Care You Need
Equally important to getting eye exams and any corrective lenses you may need is assuring that you do not pay more than necessary for this care and treatment.
Pivot Health believes that eye care is essential to your health and well-being, as well as the health and well-being of your family.
That is why Pivot Health includes discounts on eye care in its membership programs that include various types of health care insurance, including our short-term health insurance and our supplemental health insurance. These discounts generally provide discounts to Pivot Health plan members on eye exams, lenses, eyeglass frames, contacts and more.
Why Regular Eye Exams Are Essential
According to the Vision Council of America, these are the general figures on eye correction in the U.S.:
- 75 percent of adults use some sort of vision correction.
- 64 percent wear eyeglasses.
- 11 percent wear contact lenses, either exclusively or with glasses.
- Over 50 percent of women and about 42 percent of men wear glasses.
Despite these numbers, this 2008 study indicated that only 55 percent of adults age 18 or older had completed a comprehensive eye exam within the prior two years.
This is a problem for a number of reasons:
1. With the increasing use of digital devices, the instances of digital eye strain is now a real concern.
- Nearly 90 percent of adult Americans now spend more than two hours a day viewing a digital device: computers, tablets, e-readers and cell phones, for example.
- 10 percent spend three-fourths of their awake time looking at a digital device.
- Many people use more than one device simultaneously.
- 64 percent of Americans say they have irritated dry eyes, blurry vision, eye fatigue, headaches, and/or neck and back pain.
2. Many eye diseases and other diseases can be identified early through eye exams.
- There are no symptoms in the early stages of some eye diseases, such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
- Other diseases also can be seen in the eyes during early stages. Because the eyes provide doctors an opportunity to directly see blood vessels in the retina, eye exams can often be used to predict risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.
3. As the population ages, there is a risk of even larger number of people with eye diseases. These can include:
- Cataracts. At least half of Americans age 65 and older will develop cataracts. As our population ages, more than 30 million Americans may have cataracts by 2020, according to Prevent Blindness America (PBA).
- Macular degeneration, a disease that gradually destroys central vision.
- Low vision, or difficulty in seeing well even with glasses, contact lenses or other treatment.
The Most Common Eye Diseases
There are numerous eye diseases that impact the public. Unfortunately, many of these diseases can be advanced before they create symptoms that are noticeable to an individual. That is why regular eye exams are important to your vision health.
A few of the most common eye diseases include:
- Diabetic retinopathy – This is a leading cause of blindness in adults. Blood vessels change in the retina and impair the activity of the retina, which is necessary for good vision.
- Glaucoma – This disease has several forms that damage the optic nerve and can result in vision loss and blindness. In the most common form of glaucoma, fluid builds up and causes pressure to increase inside the eye which can lead to optic nerve damage. Treatment of glaucoma helps control the pressure inside the eye.
- Cataracts – This is primarily an age-related disease related. The protein in the lens begins to clump together and can begin to cloud an area of the lens. This makes it harder to see through the lens. By age 80, more than half of Americans have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.
- Age-related macular degeneration – This disease progresses at different rates for different people. It is a disease that affects the macula, which is a small spot near the center of the retina. This is the part of the eye needed for sharp, central vision to see things right in front of us. While this disease affects central vision, those with it usually retain peripheral vision, but the progression of the disease makes normal activities very difficult. The disease by itself does not lead to total blindness, but impacts the ability to see faces, to drive, to read and to write––especially if the degeneration is in both eyes.
How Often Should You Get an Eye Exam?
Many people get eye exams annually, as a good preventive measure. The American Optometric Association recommends the following:
- Birth to 24 months: by 5 months, if no symptoms and no risk factors; or as recommended if the child has risk factors determined by your doctor.
- Ages 2-5: by age 3.
- Ages 6-18: before entering first grade in school and then every two years, if no symptoms or risk factors. Annually if at-risk.
- Ages 18-60: every two years, if no symptoms or risk factors. Every one to two years or as recommended if at-risk.
- Ages 61 and over: annually, if no symptoms or risk factors. Annually or as recommended if at-risk.
The American Optometric Association lists the adult risk factors as people:
- With diabetes, hypertension, or a family history of ocular disease (e.g., glaucoma, macular degeneration)
working in occupations that are highly demanding visually or eye hazardous
- Taking prescription or nonprescription drugs with ocular side effects
- Wearing contact lenses
- Who have had eye surgery
- With other health concerns or conditions.
Getting the Right Vision Care for You
Eyeglasses, contacts, sunglasses. In most cases, it is a case of personal preference. Some people prefer the convenience and the look of contact lenses. Others like eyeglasses because they generally are lower cost.
- Because contact lenses are placed directly on your eyes, your vision––including your peripheral vision––is not obstructed as it is with the outer edges of eyeglass frames.
- If you participate in sports, outdoor activities or perform onstage, you do not have to worry about glare on your glasses or eyeglasses getting knocked off your head and damaged.
- You have the opportunity to change the color your eyes appear with color contacts.
- Some people like to make a fashion statement with glasses and even have multiple frames to use for different wardrobes or moods.
- Eyeglasses do not require the same amount of cleaning and maintenance as contacts. Although you still need to clean them, the fact that you are not putting them directly into your eyes mean that eyeglasses do not require the extra expense of special cleaning solutions.
- If you have dry eyes or sensitive eyes, then eyeglasses may be better for you.
- Eyeglasses also offer some protection from dust, wind and other irritants to your eyes.
Seeing is Believing. Take Care of Your Sight and Your Wallet
This article has only scratched the surface of the importance of good eye health and eye care. With good vision and healthy eyes, you will have the opportunity to see benefits to your overall health and well-being.
Taking care of your eyes does not have to break the bank. With discounts available through Pivot Health membership and insurance programs, you can save money and ensure that you and your family are taking good care of vision care, year after year.