Having your eyes tested could save your life. It seems a little implausible but it is absolutely true and there are numerous people willing to testify to the fact.
It is often thought that visiting an optician is purely about sight and ensuring vision is adequate. Actually, a full eye examination has much wider benefits regarding many different aspects of health and wellbeing. In 2012, 47 people who visited Specsavers’ opticians were found to have critical ilnesses or serious medical conditions that were subsequently successfully treated.
Most employees have the right to receive eyecare funded by their company, which means that workplace entitlement can, quite literally, be life-saving.
As technology becomes ubiquitous in the workplace, it has also allowed opticians to evolve far beyond the role of merely testing vision. Advances in optical equipment now allow opticians to view the retina, the back of the eye, in acute detail. Specsavers has installed millions of euros’ worth of digital retinal cameras across its network of stores in the Republic of Ireland. The cameras, and associated retinal screening services, assist the optician with the detection and monitoring of various serious health conditions, including diabetes, several heart conditions, cancers of the eye (such as melanomas), brain tumours, high cholesterol, detached retina, hypertension (high blood pressure) and glaucoma.
Employers must ensure the health and wellbeing of their employees while at work. A basic eyecare policy can, however, go so much further than this. Retinal screening is offered by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare to all appropriate customers as part of a full eye examination, at no extra charge. Simply by providing the basic requirements of health and safety laws regarding eyecare provision for screen-users, drivers and many manual workers, employers are actually able to offer far greater care.
According to Diabetes Ireland, 191,000 people in the Republic of Ireland are currently diagnosed with diabetes and over 30,000 people have the condition but are unaware. Retinal cameras can aid the detection of diabetes. The screening process also allows the condition to be monitored, which is vital as it is common for diabetics to suffer from visual disturbances and sight loss. Managing a condition like diabetes is an important aspect in enabling the individual to continue as usual in their working role and to maintain their attendance record. In turn, this can of course save businesses millions of euros in absenteeism and long-term sick leave.
While the illnesses and conditions discussed here can be extremely serious the positive side is that retinal screening puts the emphasis on preventative care. The odds of a customer discovering they have a possibly life-threatening condition are slim but the odds of this being detected early enough for successful intervention are very good.
For the employer, it is simple: under health and safety regulations you must provide eyecare for virtually all employees; so why would you not offer eyecare that incorporates much fuller positive implications for health care?
For employees it is equally straightforward: you are almost certainly entitled to eyecare, so request it, make use of it, and benefit from it.