“This study demonstrates how important innovative approaches to healthcare are, and how comprehensive eye exams should be used as a screening for prevalent metabolic conditions,” noted Dr. Steven Leichter, Medical Director of CRF. “Greater partnership between relevant healthcare providers may enhance the efficiency of our healthcare system and, in the end, reduce healthcare costs.”
The study conducted in partnership with the CRF between April and September, 2008 with 2,000 patients, aimed to show the benefits of early detection through eye exams in overall health. In addition to an eye exam, VSP eye doctors screened patients for other health risks and referred at-risk patients to the CRF for diagnosis and additional testing.
“When you take into consideration that only 21 percent of adults receive a preventive health exam annually, while 61 percent of American adults with vision coverage receive annual eye exams, vision care plays a crucial role in the early detection of chronic diseases,” said Susan Egbert, Director of Utilization and Quality Management, VSP Vision Care.
Until now, health professionals have assumed that the occurrence of arcus is related to high cholesterol. However, this study shows there is a newly discovered and even stronger relationship between arcus and high fasting blood sugar that needs to be explored further. In fact, follow-up testing for patients who had arcus showed that:
- Eighty-eight percent had high fasting blood sugar.
- Forty-five percent had an elevated hemoglobin A1c.
- Sixty-six percent had an elevated body mass index.
- Sixty-four percent had high blood pressure.
- Twenty-one percent had elevated LDL cholesterol.
“Through this collaborative study, VSP Vision Care has found a breakthrough that will improve the lives of millions of Americans by connecting eye diagnostics with overall health, showing the numerous benefits of eye exams and early disease detection,” said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, founder of the Center for Health Transformation (CHT). Gingrich and the CHT facilitated the partnership between VSP and the CRF through their Georgia Project.
In addition, at-risk patients with a vision related concern who were referred to the CRF kept their appointments 100 percent of the time. At-risk patients, who had no vision related issues, only kept their appointments 54 percent of the time. This study reaffirms that vision is a strong motivator for patients to seek additional health screenings and medical care to better manage their chronic conditions.