Millennials with tech devices in front of them on a blue bench

Myopia and Millennials: The Trend No One Saw Coming

According to a Nielson Company audience report, it is estimated that the average American spends over 10 hours behind a screen consuming digital media and content. But is this much screen time actually helping us or hurting us?

As it happens, a number of studies have recently come out against the rapid increase in screen time for everyone from toddlers to senior citizens. In fact, some of these studies have shown a correlation between increased screen time and the following:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Cynicism
  • Shortened Attention Span
  • Decreased Social Skills
  • Isolation
  • Changes In Sleep Patterns

These are just a few of the negative effects linked to the world’s growing dependency on media whether it comes from your television, computer, or myriad of smart devices.

But beyond the studied and documented negative mental and social effects, could our digital habits also be related to our actual physical health?

Millennials, Media, and Myopia

Based on the Nielsen Q1 2016 Total Audience Report, it is estimated that while U.S. adults spend an average of 10 hours and 39 minutes each day consuming media, for the Millennial generation, that number can be as high as 18 hours a day.

Interestingly enough, as the hours spent consuming digital media continues to increase, so do the recorded cases of myopia, more commonly referred to as shortsightedness, which is where a person is able to see things close up but has difficulty when trying to view things from a distance.

Myopia is commonly attributed to what happens when the eye grows too long horizontally, causing the lens of the eye to focus what the individual is trying to view in front of the retina versus on the retina. Myopia can also be the result of an overly curved cornea or an overly thick lens.

Eye diagram showing the differences between normal vision, myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatismThe Epidemic No One Saw Coming

However, over the course of the past decade Ophthalmologists are now beginning to credit our various media devices with a third cause of myopia.

In an interview with WIRED correspondent Duncan Nicholls, ophthalmologist Andrew Bastawrous was quoted as saying “There’s definitely a myopia epidemic. Many more people are becoming shortsighted than they were a decade ago. The implications of this are not just that there are more people needing glasses, but that their condition is pathological. Their myopia is due to the eyeball growing, particularly in populations of Asian descent, at a rate that is causing even potential severe visual impairment, through glaucoma retinal detachment and other retinal problems.”

Bastawrous goes on to say use the country of Singapore as an example by asserting that “more than 90 percent of school children are leaving school myopic.”

In fact, it has been estimated that here in the United States myopia rates have doubled over the last generation. Leading countless Millennials to invest in preserving their eye health.

And what are Ophthalmologists claiming is a key factor in this uptick in shortsightedness? The numerous digital screens we place in front of us every day.

One theory is that as we spend increasing amounts of time in front of our televisions, computers, and smart devices, our eyes are gradually becoming more and more accustomed to only needing to see a few feet in front of us instead of long distances. A second theory is that our eyes are not receiving enough natural sunlight because we are spending more time indoors— a theory that yet again, may have significant ties to increases in screen time.

Protecting Your Eye Health

Do you find yourself needing to squint to try to see distant objects, do you often experience headaches, blink or rub your eyes frequently?

If so, it may be time to visit your eye doctor.

When was the last time you visited an optometrist? For those without perfect vision, it is recommended that one visit the eye doctor once every twelve months to look for any adjustments that may be needed in your eye prescription.

Got Dental and Vision Insurance? Now is your chance! From now until March 31st association members can secure dental and vision insurance coverage for themselves and their family. Visit your association page to learn more about what our Dental and Vision insurance can do for you!

mother and child practicing good dental hygiene in bathroom

The Cost Of Not Having Dental Insurance

If you and your family have been skipping trips to the dentist, you’re not alone. “For every adult without health insurance, an estimated three lack dental insurance” this comes according to a quote issued by the Kaiser Family Foundation based off of research conducted by the National Association of Dental Plans.

A Key Component Of Overall Health and Hygiene

But what so few realize is the close relationship between one’s oral health and their overall health. A person’s mouth is a haven for potentially harmful bacteria, regular flossing, brushing, and cleanings can keep the bacteria at bay but when a person is neglecting their teeth, the bacteria can build and lead to infections, tooth decay, and gum disease. From there, it is possible for the bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body leading to other serious problems.

man with young daughter at doctors office doing paperwork smilingAccording to Mayoclinic.org, the following have been found to possibly share a link with poor oral care:

  • Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart (endocardium). Endocarditis typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.
  • Cardiovascular disease. Some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
  • Pregnancy and birth. Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.

And if you suffer from any of the following conditions, your oral health may be at risk of deterioration without extra care administered by a dental professional:

  • Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection — putting the gums at risk. Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes. Research shows that people who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels and that regular periodontal care can improve diabetes control.
  • HIV/AIDS. Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS.
  • Osteoporosis — which causes bones to become weak and brittle — might be linked to periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Drugs used to treat osteoporosis carry a small risk of damage to the bones of the jaw.
  • Alzheimer’s disease. Worsening oral health is seen as Alzheimer’s disease progresses.

In addition to the most noted above health issues, poor oral health has also been linked to such health issues as eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, head and neck cancers, and Sjogren’s syndrome among others.

Dental Insurance Can Help

When a person develops a cold, or the flu, that’s when they know they need to take it easy for a few days and give their body time to rest and recharge. But when it comes to your teeth, symptoms of ailing oral health may not be so obvious. This is why it is important to visit your dentist for routine exams and cleanings to avoid problems down the road.

Got Dental Insurance? If not, there’s no time like the present! From now until December 31st, you can enroll in Dental and Vision Insurance with an effective date of Jan. 1st to ensure coverage throughout the 2018 year. This is a special opportunity that arrives just once per quarter.

For more information, click here to learn more about our Dental and Vision Insurance offerings.

Visit a Dentist— ANY Dentist

The Comprehensive PPO is a dental plan that can help you save1 and get the care you need.

No matter who your dentist may be, with the MetLife Preferred Dentist Program, the power to choose and save is yours.

Here are the facts:

  • You can go to any licensed dentist, in or out of the network.
  • Reimbursement for your out-of-network dental care is based on the 90th percentile of “reasonable and customary” charges1. We look at what dentists in your area actually charge for services, and we calculate reimbursement based on the 90th percentile of those charges.
  • The way we determine allowable charges for the 90th R&C means your eligible benefit amount for out-of-network care is high relative to average dental charges in the community. This helps you pay less out of pocket.
  • Sometimes when you visit an out-of-network dentist you may have to pay part of the bill. This is called balance billing. But with a 90th percentile R&C plan, in most cases, you won’t be balance billed above your typical out-of-pocket costs – your deductible, coinsurance amount, and your plan maximum.

Take charge of your dental care

Talk to your dentist

Before you get any major dental work, you should talk to your dentist about getting a pretreatment estimate2. That’s when your dentist sends the plan for your care to MetLife.

For most procedures, you and your dentists will receive the estimate – online or by fax – during your visit. The statement shows amounts for what your plan covers. Then you and your dentist can talk about your care and costs before your treatment. It’s a great way to be prepared and plan ahead.

Get your plan information – fast!

Managing your dental benefits has never been easier. You’ve got MyBenefits – your secure member website. Just log on at www.metlife.com/mybenefits. With the 24/7 website you can3:

  • Review your plan information, including what’s covered and coinsurance
  • Track your deductible and plan maximums
  • Find a dentist or view your claim history
  • Read up on the oral health information you need to make informed decisions about your care

Take a look at the charts below. They will give you a better idea of how your plan works when you visit a participating (in-network) or a non-participating (out-of-network) dentist.

The 90th bar

This chart shows how often plan members across the nation usually go to a participating or non-participating dentist. It also shows just how rare it is for you to pay more than your typical out-of-pocket costs.

Savings example

This hypothetical example shows that whether you get a cleaning from a participating or non-participating dentist, you can still save money4.

Visit any licensed dentist. The choice is all yours!

Like most group benefit programs, benefit programs offered by MetLife and its affiliates contain certain exclusions, exceptions, waiting periods, reductions of benefits, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. Please contact MetLife or your Plan Administrator for complete details.

For more information please click here.

1R&C fee refers to the Reasonable and Customary (R&C) charge, which is based on the lowest of 1) the dentist’s actual charge, 2) the dentist’s usual charge for the

same or similar services or the usual charge of most dentists in the same geographic area for the same or similar services as determined by MetLife.

2Actual benefit determinations are made when services are rendered and are subject to the following as applicable on the date of service: patient eligibility; plan and frequency limitations; maximums and deductibles; and other coverages.

3With the exception of scheduled or unscheduled systems maintenance or interruptions, the MyBenefits website is typically available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

4Please note: This is a hypothetical example that reviews an adult teeth cleaning (D1110) in the Chicago area, zip 60601.  It assumes that the annual deductible has been met.

5This example excludes non-participating dentists who charge more than what 90% of what other dentists in the area charge. Please note that if you receive care from a dentist that falls into this category, your out-of-pocket costs may be higher.

6Negotiated Fee refers to the fees that in-network dentists have agreed to accept as payment in full, subject to any co-payments, deductibles, cost sharing and benefits maximums.

Tips to Help You Keep Your Teeth for Life

Did you know that one in four Americans over 65 have no teeth? That being said, a healthy smile can be an impressive asset! Your teeth vary in shape and size depending on where they are in your mouth. These differences allow them to do many different jobs. They help us talk, pronounce different sounds clearly and give our faces their shape! Because they are so important, it makes sense to give your teeth the best care possible. For most of us, thorough daily oral hygiene lays the foundation for a healthy smile. Just a simple routine of brushing and flossing, in addition to regular dental checkups, can be enough in most cases to help prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.

Follow these tips to hold onto your smile!

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Dental Costs With and Without Insurance

Everyone needs dental care at some point. However, not everyone wants to pay for insurance coverage. Chances are you’ve thought about costs tied to proper treatment. If you’re considering covering dental costs out-of-pocket on a per-treatment basis, knowing common procedure costs is important. While avoiding upfront costs from purchasing a dental insurance plan may seem cost-effective, having a great dental plan can greatly reduce your overall cost of care.

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