Employees seek blue light protection in vision plans

Register now

Employees who wear prescription lenses are aware of the importance of protection against blue light — the short wavelength of the color spectrum that produces high amounts of potentially destructive energy — but they are uncertain if their current vision solutions offer the proper protection.

Besides the sun, which is the chief source of blue light, this wavelength that can contribute to eyestrain and retinal damage emanates from LED lights and the screens of smartphones, tablets, laptop and other devices. Researchers also believe that blue light exposure contributes to the development of age-related macular degeneration.

In the 2017 “Employee Perceptions of Vision Benefits” survey sponsored by Transitions Optical, more U.S. employees prefer to use corrective lenses with blue light protection (44%) rather than change the screen settings on their devices (24%) or reduce their exposure (17%).

In a breakdown of the surveyed workforce, the majority of generations — 83% of millennials, 11% of Generation X and 75% of baby boomers — agree that blue light protection is important in their eyewear. However, 25% of millennials and 27% of baby boomers are somewhat confused about whether their current eyewear offers this protection.

While baby boomers are more likely to use their prescription eyewear for protection (55%) compared to millennials (38%), the older workers are least likely to have blue light protection in their current eyewear. Forty-one percent of millennials and 49% of baby boomers do not have protection in their current lenses.

The survey results surprised Transition Optical, the sponsor of the online survey conducted by Wakefield Research of 1,002 U.S. part-time and full-time workers whose employers offer vision benefits.

“We were surprised that people are aware of blue light and the high numbers show it. We were also surprised by the lack of awareness around eye care and eye wear, and I think that is where it is really incumbent on us in the industry and for brokers and HR professionals to better educate their consumers and employees to the options that are available for them,” says Jonathan Ormsby, strategic account manager at Transitions Optical.

The survey also found that less than one in five employees — 19% of millennials and 15% of baby boomers —identified the sun as a source of blue light.

“Among corrective lens wearers, employees would prefer to have blue light protection in their lenses among most of other options they have to available to them” such as limiting screen time and adjusting the screen settings on their devices, says Ormsby.

Transition Optical is the maker of lenses that darken as wearers venture outdoors. Ormsby claims that transition lenses block 20% of light indoors and 85% outdoors when they are darkened. Despite these claims, corrective lens users appear to be unware of this benefit, which is inspiring the eyewear manufacturer to conduct an outreach program to benefit and eyewear providers. Starting this month, Transition Optical will debut a TV commercial lauding the benefits of blue light protection in their lenses.

“Employees are saying that blue light protection is important and yet they are unaware if they have blue light protection in their eyewear,” he says.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
Vision insurance Healthcare plans Healthcare benefits Healthcare costs Voluntary benefits