Eye care can change the course of life. It’s not an exaggeration. Consider a story shared by Dr. Scott Edmonds, Chief Eye Care Officer at UnitedHealthcare.

He met one of his patients when she was 13 years old. She had major vision problems caused by being born prematurely. While her eyesight was preserved through medical care, she struggled in school. Edmonds discovered during the evaluation that she had uncorrected global astigmatism. correct that…

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Eye care can change the course of life. It’s not an exaggeration. Consider a story shared by Dr. Scott Edmonds, Chief Eye Care Officer at UnitedHealthcare.

He met one of his patients when she was 13 years old. She had major vision problems caused by being born prematurely. While her eyesight was preserved through medical care, she struggled in school. Edmonds discovered during the evaluation that she had uncorrected global astigmatism. He corrected this and was then able to provide the medically necessary contact lenses.

“She really came out of her shell socially,” Edmonds recalls. “Her grades improved. She was accepted into college. She did really well in college. She continued her work and became a physiotherapist. She met her husband in physical therapy school. They have a new baby. She has had a really successful life.”

Edmonds said this is why eye health is so important and why people should take advantage of the eye care benefits that their insurance provides. “It’s not always that dramatic,” he admitted. “But in this case, we can really change the course of our lives by correcting the refractive error and completely improving her vision, and I love seeing her when she comes into the office.”

Not just any pair of glasses

Edmonds’ story speaks to something interesting about eye health, adds John Ryan, CEO of Vision Plans for UnitedHealthcare. He said eye care involves many factors and aspects in a person’s life. “It’s insurance. It’s medical. It’s fashion. It’s retail.”

Ryan said knowing that the impact goes beyond the aspect of Medicare affects how UnitedHealthcare views the services it provides through eye health services benefit programs, such as the FedVIP Vision Plan.

“What we really see is, just like many things in our lives, increased consumption,” he said. “Obviously people want to take care of their eyes, but when they need glasses or contact lenses to correct vision, but glasses in particular, they want something that works for them.”

So people can easily find what they want with less hassle — something people are looking for and ordering, he said — UnitedHealthcare has created partnerships with eyeglass makers like Warby Parker and GlassesUSA and contractor suppliers such as 1-800 contacts.

“Wherever they want to be on this kind of value chain for what is important to them – price, fashion and where they get it – our network enables them to do so,” Ryan said.

Changing the world, changing the vision requires

Edmunds said trends in behavior affect eye health and care needs, not just the look and function of the glasses people look for.

He noted the increased screen time is common today. It has created an eye health problem: digital eye strain. While many middle-aged people often experience dry eye irritation, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen an increase in eye irritation symptoms among people of all ages.

“People may not have dry eyes, but they have other symptoms, redness, irritation, or blurred vision from spending too much time in front of a digital device,” Edmonds said.

To help address such health challenges and to encourage people to view eye care as part of their overall health, UnitedHealthcare has invested in blue light solutions. In addition to blue light protective eyewear, it is now partnering with screen protector companies such as ZAGG and device makers such as Dell to provide blue light protection products to its members.

“We’re particularly focused on pediatrics and pediatrics because we really believe we need to make an impact there,” Ryan said.

Remember Edmunds’ observation: “80% of what the brain takes in from its environment comes from the visual system.”

Do you know the three essential elements of every eye examination?

Here are the three things an optometrist or optometrist will look for during a typical eye exam:

  • Basic Eye Examination Element #1: Can you see clearly, at close range and up close, so you can do well at work or school?

“Vision is our number one job,” said Dr. Scott Edmonds of UnitedHealthcare. “This is done by ocular refraction to make sure that each eye is equally corrected and that people have a good depth perception and that they see it as nice and clear as possible.”

  • Basic Eye Examination Element #2: Are there signs of possible eye disease?

“Some eye diseases, like glaucoma in particular, have no signs or symptoms,” Edmonds said. “Anyone can have glaucoma, have great vision and not realize they are threatened. Glaucoma, when left untreated, can lead to blindness.”

  • Basic Eye Examination Element #3: Are there any other risk factors that could affect the patient’s overall health?

John Ryan, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Vision Plans, said: “23 conditions can be diagnosed through the eye that have nothing to do with vision. For example, an eye exam that detects unusual changes in the blood vessels in the retina often results in high blood pressure, which It’s often consistent with undiagnosed diabetes, Edmunds explained.

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