How important is vision insurance?
Unfortunately, most people do not think of it as critical. It is bought separately from general health insurance policies and often thrown in with other types of insurance, most commonly dental insurance. Additionally people are not always aware of how to care for their vision. As we age, our vision, like the rest of the body, degrades.
However, to show how critical vision is, compare the following facts.
- Even with the medical advances, restoration of full vision is nearly impossible; so once lost, very little can done to restore vision to its previous strength. This is not true of most body parts including teeth
- It is relatively cheap to insure vision, vs. dental or health insurance
- Policies are relatively simple to understand, unlike health insurance policies with their myriad exclusions
Before we get into insurance, let us talk about common vision ailments and what you, as an elderly person, can do to prevent vision problems.
STRUCTURE OF THE EYE
Let me break down your eye structure. Key functions of the eye are to receive light, focus on objects and transmit data to the brain. Here are the key parts of your eye.
- Pupil, transmits light to the back of the eye
- Lens, retina and macula work together to transmit not only light and contours but interpret it and communicate data to the brain
- Vitreous gel, which is 90+ percent water, keeps the shape of the eye and provides moisture
- Cornea helps to keep the eye from getting infected and also regulates light entering into the eye
- Iris acts a light meter or filter
COMMON EYE CONDITIONS
Common vision and sight-impairement conditions are as follows:
2. Diabetes related dieseases
3. Macular degeneration
5. Dry eye
6. Vision impairment
While age related degradation of the eye is common and unfortunately cannot be eliminated, its advance can be slowed down through discipline and some smart practices. They are;
1. Testing: make sure you see your eye doctor at least once a year (usually every six months after the age of 60 or if you have genetic issues with the eye) is recommended. Make sure you undergo a “comprehensive dilated eye exam”
2. Hereditory history: certain eye problems are genetic; know your family’s exposure to eye diseases.
3. Diet: a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly leafy vegetables is good for the health of your eye
4. Rest: like the rest of our body, your eyes need to rest. Constant focusing, particularly in back-lit devices, can strain eye muscles.
5. Over-exposure: wear sunglasses–not just to look cool, but avoid hits of sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Most vision insurance policies cover basic preventive routines such as eye exams etc. Most come with an annual maximum. But aside from the money, your vision insurance provider should offer the following broad categories of protection and support.
1. Products, Services: these include eye exams, surgery, age-related procedures and discounts on frames and lenses
2. Acceptance. Make sure your provider’s policy is accepted across a wide network of opthomologists and eye surgeons near where you live or work. Particularly if you are retired, you may not be very mobile. To have to drive or be driven far to see your eye doctor is not acceptable. It is worth paying a little bit extra for a provider who is accepted widely.
3. Resources. Your provider should have a website member support center that can answer technical questions
4. Customer service. Your provider should have knowledgeable customer service reps who understand what is and is not covered under the policy, how much a particularly procedure can cost in your area and recommend good doctors.
In summary, there is a lot you as a senior can do for your eyes–and be smart about the policy you buy as vision insurance.