New Study Finds Eye Exams First to Detect Chronic Diseases

Chart: Early Detection through Eye Exams Saves Money
2.4 Million Americans Identified with Chronic Disease Through Eye Exams
Study Shows Employers Offering Vision Benefits Save $4.5 billion on Healthcare Costs
due to Early Detection of Disease
Rancho Cordova, CAApril 19, 2011 – A new study released today shows that eye exams are often the first to detect chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension. The study, conducted by Human Capital Management Services Group (HCMS), a national human capital consulting firm, found that eye doctors detected signs of certain chronic conditions before any other healthcare provider recorded the condition—65 percent of the time for high cholesterol, 20 percent of the time for diabetes, and 30 percent of the time for hypertension.
“With the national healthcare system focused on prevention and early detection, annual eye exams play a critical role in detecting signs of chronic diseases even at the beginning stages as eye doctors have the only unobstructed, non-invasive view of blood vessels,” said Susan Egbert, director of eye health management, VSP Vision Care, the nation’s largest eyecare provider who commissioned the study.  “Additionally, individuals who have a VSP vision plan are three times more likely to get an annual eye exam than a routine, preventive physical, making it a critical component of overall health and wellness.”
When the study was applied to VSP’s entire membership of 56 million, the following received early treatment for chronic diseases as a result of their eye exam:
  • 65 percent of the 2.2 million members with high cholesterol (1.5 million), resulting in two year savings of $1.7 billion
  • 20 percent of 1.5 million members with diabetes (296,800), resulting in two year savings of  $827 million
  • 30 percent of 2.2 million members with hypertension (667,800), resulting in two year savings of $2 billion
The HCMS study further revealed that employers offering vision benefits experienced 7 percent less absenteeism, 4 percent less employee turnover and savings on insurance and workers’ compensation costs. Early detection of chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension also increased the likelihood employees would be proactive with their healthcare and more likely to see a medical doctor to receive follow-up care. 
The study also concluded that eyecare benefits saved VSP’s 38,000 clients – for profits, not-for-profits and government organizations – $4.5 billion through the early detection of chronic diseases via an eye exam. For every $1 invested in VSP exam services – which include comprehensive, annual eye exams – during an employee’s first year with the benefit, employers average a two-year total return of $1.27 in long-term healthcare savings. These savings are a result of avoided medical costs and increased employee productivity.
VSP Vision Care is the only vision plan to facilitate nationwide, HIPAA-compliant data collection and exchange through the VSP Eye Health Management Program® resulting in these cost savings and health benefits. To view this study, visit
 Chart: Early Detection through Eye Exams Saves Money
About the study
Human Capital Management Services Group (HCMS), a national health care and workplace productivity consulting firm, matched medical condition data for over 200,000 members covered by VSP Vision Care, spanning two years to medical and pharmacy data obtained from the clients’ medical and drug carriers.  HCMS compared chronic patients who were first identified by VSP Vision Care against those who entered the health care system via traditional means.  The study included six large commercial clients with a total of 212,000 members. 
With a research reference database of more than 2.2 million employees and their families who are actively enrolled in a health plan, HCMS maintains comprehensive data catalogue containing medical and prescription costs, absenteeism, disability, workers’ compensation, and productivity costs. The study identified more than 9,000 VSP members who were first identified with early signs of diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol by a VSP doctor.
About VSP Global
VSP GlobalSM includes VSP Vision Care, the largest not-for-profit vision benefits and services company in the United States with 56 million members; Marchon® Eyewear Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers, designers and distributors of quality fashion and technologically-advanced eyewear and sunwear; Eyefinity® which offer innovative solutions and the premier management software and technology to improve overall practice management and patient experience; VSP Optics Group, industry leaders in new technologies, production processes, service and logistics.
Since 1997, VSP has provided more than 619,400 low-income, uninsured children with free eyecare. Through relationships including those with the American Diabetes Association and Prevent Blindness America, VSP promotes the importance of annual eye exams for maintaining eye health and overall wellness.
About HCMS 
HCMS Group is the only combined health IT and clinical services company that uses custom data analytics to help businesses reduce their health benefit costs, and also support those employees with the greatest health risks. HCMS helps companies control runaway health benefit costs that can threaten business survival by identifying ways that companies can get the incentives right between employers and workers. HCMS helps companies improve business performance and create great places to work, where employees feel empowered, valued and rewarded.





Pat McNeil