Versant Health’s First Vision Wellness Study Finds Americans Want More from Eyecare But Worry About the Costs

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BALTIMORE—Versant Health has released the results of its inaugural Vision Wellness Study, which explores Americans’ perceptions of eyecare and how it connects to and informs their overall health and wellness. The study explores the perceptions around a range of issues, from the frequency of eye exams, to highly valued vision services and cost-containment measures. The study found that most Americans will receive an eye exam in the next two years, if not sooner. Still, just 13 percent say they go to their eye doctor for both routine eyecare, such as glasses, and addressing potential symptoms of chronic conditions, despite the fact than an eye exam can non-invasively screen for upwards of 30 different chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension.

Yet, nearly all (84 percent) respondents say that if they were aware of the connection between eyecare and early disease detection, they’d be more likely to make an eye doctor appointment—pointing to a gap in understanding about the benefits of eye exams and the connection between vision wellness and holistic health, according to Versant Health’s announcement.

“The fact is that vision care is preventive care, but our study found that two-thirds of people don’t realize that their eye doctors can detect chronic conditions,” Versant Health chief executive officer Kirk Rothrock said. “It’s critical for people to understand how eye exams allow for early detection and treatment of potentially serious—and costly—health issues.”

Among the study’s findings:

• Older Americans—those over the age of 60—more often recognize the importance of eye exams and vision care for their overall health and wellness. For instance, 81 percent of them say they place a high value on eye doctors’ abilities to identify serious, non-eye diseases, as compared with 65 percent of people under 40.

• On the flip side, just 23 percent say a child under the age of 18 in their household has received care from an eye doctor, compared to 80 percent of adults—indicating that the value of healthy vision for children is not clear.

The study found that cost is the top health care concern for Americans, with 61 percent of people indicating that identifying ways to decrease overall health care costs is a very important care topic.

However, false perceptions about the affordability of both receiving care and purchasing insurance are stopping people from getting routine care as often as they should. More than one-third (39 percent) of people reveal that cost is a reason why household members do not visit an eye doctor as often as they would like.

Other notable findings of the survey include:

• Less than 40 percent of people have a high-level of confidence in eye doctors’ abilities to identify health conditions such as diabetes, early stage hypertension, Graves’ disease, high cholesterol and other chronic illnesses.

• Many people (32 percent) report having no vision care insurance at all to cover the costs of eyecare.

• Women are more likely (31 percent) than men (22 percent) to experience cost and insurance barriers to eyecare.

This inaugural Vision Wellness Study conducted in September 2019, included two distinct surveys fielded by Market Measurement, a custom market research firm. The consumer survey comprised 500 responses from consumers 18 and older. The health care plan executive survey comprised 17 responses from health care plan executives across the U.S.