The term glaucoma refers to a group of conditions that affect the optic nerves and can cause permanent vision damage. Glaucoma often has no symptoms. In fact, according to research, it’s possible that up to 50% of people with glaucoma do not know they have it.
What Your Clients Need to Know About Glaucoma
Since Glaucoma doesn’t often show symptoms prior to vision loss, information is the best available defense for your clients. Make sure they know the facts:
- The two main types of glaucoma are primary open-angle and angle-closure. Both are caused by pressure in the eye, which is related to drainage issues. In open-angle glaucoma, fluids drain too slowly, while angle-closure glaucoma is caused by a complete blockage of the drainage system. Both can result in permanent blindness if untreated.
- Glaucoma risk increases with age, and the condition affects some races earlier and more frequently than others.
- In addition to age and race, other glaucoma risk factors include high blood pressure, steroid use, and injuries to the eye.
- While avoiding eye injury and other risk factors can help with glaucoma prevention, early detection gives the best chance of preserving vision. Doctors recommend regular eye exams every 6-12 months for those over the age of 65.
Glaucoma and Medicare
While Medicare commonly covers treatment for those diagnosed with glaucoma, coverage for annual screenings depends on a few factors. In most cases, Medicare will not cover eye exams. The two glaucoma-related exceptions to this are:
- Clients with diabetes are covered for one exam each year conducted by a state-approved provider.
- Clients with certain risk factors are also eligible for an annual eye exam. Those risk factors include family history and being African American or Hispanic American. The risk of glaucoma increases for both races with age and clients of these races will be in high-risk territory by the time they become eligible for Medicare.
For your other clients, early detection to prevent permanent blindness from glaucoma will require a vision plan.
Policy Options for Vision Coverage
Manhattan Life’s Dental, Vision, & Hearing plan offers two policy options, with coverage of up to 80% of associated costs. Their vision coverage includes the cost of eyeglasses or contact lenses, but – more importantly for your clients at risk for glaucoma – it covers regular eye exams.Visit our Manhattan Life page or download 5 Best Ancillary Products for Medicare Sales to find out more about this and other great ancillary products we recommend.