In addition to maintaining the health of the teeth and eyes, dental and vision checkups can reveal certain medical conditions that affect long-term wellness. Detecting diabetes, cancer and other health issues early can help your employees manage their symptoms before conditions become worse, which can keep medical costs and unscheduled absences down.
Although the ACA requires children to receive dental insurance, you are not obligated to provide it for adults. It is also not required for you to provide vision insurance for employees. While cutting specialty benefits may seem like a way to trim costs, dental and vision exams have long-term implications for medical expenses and general health.
What Eye Exams Reveal
A comprehensive eye examination is recommended annually, even for people with perfect vision. Eye doctors not only test your eyesight but also check for certain eye diseases:
- Glaucoma: a common eye disease that is the leading cause of irreversible blindness.
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD): commonly affects the elderly and can cause decline in vision.
- Cataracts: the clouding of the clear lens in the eye that leads to vision impairment.
Apart from prescribing corrective eye wear, medicine or surgery to minimize vision loss, an eye doctor is also qualified to detect chronic diseases by looking at the eye’s blood vessels and retina:
- Diabetes: According to MedlinePlus, people with diabetes are at risk for developing diabetic retinopathy. Patients might not be aware that they have diabetes until an eye doctor finds blood and yellowish fluids escaping out of narrow and minute vessels in the retinas.
- Hypertension: MedlinePlus also notes that a change in blood vessels can reveal hypertension, or high blood pressure.
What Dental Exams Reveal
In addition to tooth, gum and general mouth health, undergoing regular dental checkups can help reveal early signs of gum disease or abnormalities in the mouth which may be indicative of the following diseases:
- Diabetes: Untreated diabetes can lead to gum disease, as detailed by Johns Hopkins Medicine. People who are diabetic are prone to swollen and receding gums and tooth loss because diabetes can slow the process of gum healing and reduce resistance to oral infections. Because of this, problems with teeth and gums can be one of the first signs of diabetes.
- Cancer: During routine oral checkups, your dentist should screen for cancer by feeling for lumps or irregular tissue changes in your mouth.
- Heart disease: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gum disease has been linked to heart disease as well as stroke and low-weight births.
Specialty benefits that include oral and vision coverage provide your employees with the opportunity to maintain better dental and eye care and to take preventive measures to ward off or manage chronic illness. On your part, you should take the initiative to motivate your employees to be accountable for their health and to participate in regular screenings designed to improve their conditions.
Emmie Sahlan has a graduate degree in English and has been writing professionally for the past five years. Her niche areas are insurance, credit cards, personal finance and education.