As those of us in the industry well know, a lot of people do not have an annual eye exam and many adults have never had their eyes examined even if they have employer sponsored vision insurance. I think a lot more people would have an eye exam if they did not have to take time off from work and if it was conveniently available at their place of employment. The Vision Council has reported that 22% of adults or almost 12 million people who need it are without vision correction. That is an alarming number!
Many more companies are providing on-site health care. It makes sense as it encourages more health prevention and it is more productive for an employee not to have to leave the work place for a medical appointment. Some employers such as Intel Corp, Walt Disney Co., Pitney Bowes,and Toyota Motor Corp., are opening or already have fully equipped on-site medical centers staffed by physicians and nurses that offer primary care type services. About 29% of big employers had or were planning to install on-site health clinics in 2008, according to a survey by consulting firm Watson Wyatt and the non-profit National Business Group on Health. Some of these companies offer “low-cost” annual vision tests on-site. It would be interesting to know how comprehensive these vision tests are and what the procedure is for follow up particularly those that need vision correction. It could be good for consumers and good for the optical industry if more employers would provide a comprehensive vision screening program as well as vision care coverage for employees and refer those that need it to local optical providers for follow-up on their eye care needs. Assuming only 10% of the 12 million adults who need vision correction but don’t currently have it, were to have employer sponsored on-site vision screening and followed up with an optical provider that would bring in 1.2 million more customers and improve the quality of life for every one of them.