Flex Spending Helps Families Protect Vision, Prevent Problems

Flex Spending Helps Families Protect Vision, Prevent Problems

Vision experts urge consumers to make the most of their health care spending

Alexandria, VA (November 4, 2010) - It's time to use-or-lose this year's flex spending dollars. For those who lack vision insurance or have benefits that don't cover all the costs associated with an eye exam, using funds in a flexible spending account (FSA) makes maintaining healthy vision more affordable. Flex spending accounts require that contributions be spent in the year they are made, so the end of the year is the perfect time to catch up on vision exams or consider updating or replacing dated eyewear.

Because they are exempt from federal, state and payroll taxes, FSAs can cut out-of-pocket medical expenses, including those spent on vision care, by as much as 30 percent. But each year nearly 80 percent of Americans eligible for FSAs fail to use them.

Unfortunately, money woes may cause some people to forego preventive health care, said Ed Greene, CEO of The Vision Council. But skipping a regular eye exam or eyeglass replacement won't pay off, especially if it means FSA money is left on the table.

Vision disorders are the second most prevalent health problem in the country, affecting more than 120 million people, so the effect of postponing or avoiding eye care because of the cost - which 40 percent of Americans report doing - could be dangerous. Many vision-threatening conditions have no early warning signs and eye exams can also detect other serious health problems including diabetes and hypertension.

In addition to recommending regular eye exams, The Vision Council offers these tips for enhancing vision and eye safety across the lifespan:

  • Lenses with an anti-reflective coating reduce glare for driving at night or working on a computer.
  • Lenses made from a high-index plastic reduce weight and thickness for those with strong prescriptions.
  • Polycarbonate lenses are impact-resistant, making them a smart choice for children and active adults.
  • Photochromic and polarized lenses which reduce glare and provide UV protection for sports and outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Computer lenses magnify objects from an intermediate distance to prevent the headaches and light sensitivity associated with long hours spent staring at a monitor.
  • Progressive lenses offer clear vision at all distances without a noticeable transition or tell-tale lines.

Now is also the time to plan next year's FSA contributions. As people make their health care decisions for 2011, we urge them to make protecting their families' vision and preventing any problems part of the calculation, added Greene. We remind people to anticipate vision care needs, such as exams, eyeglasses and UV protection, when they decide how much to set aside next year.

To learn more about the best ways to keep eyes healthy and safe, please contact Maureen Beddis at (703) 740-9496 or mbeddis@thevisioncouncil.org; or Starla Stiles at (202) 745-5065 or sstiles@gymr.com.

Serving as the global voice for vision care products and services, The Vision Council represents the manufacturers and suppliers of the optical industry. We position our members to be successful in a competitive marketplace through education, advocacy, consumer outreach, strategic relationship building and industry forums.