From blood and other bodily fluids to liquid and aerosol chemicals to infectious disease agents—not to mention unpredictable animal behaviors—veterinary medicine is a minefield of ocular hazards with the potential to cause eye injuries or serious illness.
Most practice-related eye injuries are limited to scratches, burns, irritations, and allergic reactions, but the potential exists for ocular transmission of zoonoses. Exposure to zoonoses can occur when veterinarians touch the conjunctiva after handling infected animals or when fluids from infected animals splash or spray into unprotected eyes. Such exposure can result in relatively minor conjunctivitis, with reddening and soreness, or in more serious illness.
"Vision is extremely important to veterinarians, both in terms of their ability to practice and their overall quality of life," said Dr. James H. Brandt, a trustee of the AVMA Group Health and Life Insurance Trust. "That is why all veterinarians are strongly encouraged to follow proper safety practices and take advantage of the vision coverage available through GHLIT to protect eye health and maintain good vision."
The good news is that 90 percent of all work-related eye injuries are preventable with proper safety precautions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For veterinarians, protective eyewear such as goggles, safety glasses, and splash guards help protect against the most common ocular hazards.
Most eye injuries or diseases are part of standard coverage under most GHLIT medical plans. Benefits also include one routine eye examination at a cost of up to $50 every 24 months—the recommended frequency for adults—which is not subject to plan deductibles or co-insurance limits.
"Regular eye examinations are vital to early detection and treatment of diseases, as well as to maintaining good vision," Dr. Brandt said. "To ensure all plan participants have access to proper eye care, GHLIT medical policies include vision benefits. Supplemental policies are also available that help offset the costs of standard eye exams and vision correction."
Vision benefits also are available through the GHLIT's supplemental dental coverage, designed by Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. and underwritten by Ameritas Life/First Ameritas, as part of the classic and premier plans. These vision benefits include an annual eye examination and discounts on eyewear, contact lens services, and the Laser VisionCare program. These benefits are not subject to plan deductibles.
"The AVMA GHLIT offers these rich benefits to ensure our plan participants have access to the high-quality, affordable eye care they need to protect one of their most valuable senses, their vision," Dr. Brandt said.
Information on GHLIT benefits is at www.avmaghlit.org. New York Life Insurance Co. underwrites the GHLIT insurance program. Veterinarians and veterinary students can obtain more information—including plan details, rates, exclusions, limitations, eligibility, and renewal provisions—or find a GHLIT agent by calling the Trust office at (800) 621-6360