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Interest in Vision Benefits Is On the Rise, Study Finds

Of respondents who received an eye exam in the past two years, 70% said the ability to identify eye diseases is high-value service offered by eye doctors.

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Versant Health, Inc. released results of its third annual Vision Wellness Study, finding that consumer opinions of the value of vision care are rising.

The research found that “more people agree that the ability to identify both eye diseases and chronic health conditions are highly valuable services offered by eye doctors,” according to Versant. Additionally, the use of virtual eyecare options — including telemedicine, tech-enabled communication and online eye wear shopping — have both increased year-over-year and influence consumers’ insurance benefits decisions.

The Vision Wellness Study surveyed consumers on their evolving perceptions of eyecare over the past two years of living with a global pandemic, including the importance they place on eyecare services, their beliefs about the connections between eye health and overall health, and the factors that influence current insurance benefit decisions.

Of those survey respondents who received an eye exam during the past two years, 70% say the ability to identify eye diseases is high-value service offered by eye doctors, up from 65% last year. Additionally, 61% say the ability to identify other serious diseases is a high-value service offered by eyecare providers, slightly up from 59% last year. “This points to a gradual increase in the importance consumers place on their eyecare visits, which we may continue to see in coming years, as more people consider the care resources that support their whole-body health,” according to Versant.

Virtual eyecare options are having a greater influence on how — and the likelihood that — people seek eye care moving forward, according to the company. In fact, more than one-third (37%) of respondents believe that telemedicine is a very important healthcare topic in general. Nearly two thirds (65%) of respondents say having access to virtual visits and telemedicine would make them more likely to make an eye doctor appointment, and nearly one third (31%) say having access to virtual visits and telemedicine would make them more likely to purchase vision insurance, a 10% increase over last year.

“The pandemic has created an increased desire for telemedicine that is here to stay, even in the eye health space,” says Dr. Mark Ruchman chief medical officer at Versant. “The ‘new normal’ for insurers and managed care organizations that are engaging members and patients in their whole-body health includes innovating the way they access and experience tech-enabled vision care services.”

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Beyond telemedicine, consumers’ opinions of eyecare and insurance is impacted by virtual access to communication with doctors. More than one third (39%) of respondents who have received an eye exam in the past two years say that communicating virtually/remotely with their eye doctor has a high impact on them seeing them more often, compared to 31% who said the same last year. Additionally, one third (34%) say that being able to buy eyewear online has a high impact on them seeing an eye doctor more often, compared to 27% who said the same last year. Of those respondents who do not have vision insurance, half (50%) think that being able to use insurance to purchase eyewear online would make them more likely to purchase vision insurance, up from 41% last year.

The study, conducted between Feb. 7-18, included one survey fielded by Market Measurement, a custom market research firm. The survey comprises 558 responses from consumers ages 18 and older.

Versant, a wholly owned subsidiary of MetLife Inc., is an administrator of managed vision care companies serving more than 38 million client-members nationwide.

Read more from the survey here.

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