Intraocular pressure testing using a non-contact tonometer
In November 2018, Santen announced the Santen Health Declaration to help ensure the health and happiness in mind and body of Santen employees. In Japan, Santen is actively working to maintain and promote the physical and mental health of its employees by improving the working environment (work style reform) and implementing four health support measures for both the mind (mental health measures) and the body (eye health and lifestyle improvement).
One of Santen's unique initiatives is conducting eye examinations for all employees in Japan. As a specialty company specializing in the field of ophthalmology, the program was initiated to support employees' eye health, deepen their understanding of patients and eye diseases through examinations, and contribute to society by reflecting this understanding in the company's products and services.
Santen's eye exam is conducted once every three-to-four years for employees in Japan. Although the examinations are voluntary, approximately 70% of employees have received the examinations in each of the past two years (2015 and 2018). In FY2022, the first time it has been conducted in four years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many employees have participated.
The main eye examination performed during a general physical examination is a visual acuity test, but Santen's process includes nine detailed eye examinations. Three of the most distinctive are the non-contact intraocular pressure test, ocular fundus three-dimensional computerized tomography (OCT), and Humphrey visual field test.
・Intraocular pressure test: For this test, a non-contact tonometer uses a light jet of air from the testing device to measure the pressure (hardness) of the eye. Glaucoma, the leading cause of blindness in many countries and regions, is a disease in which high intraocular pressure and other factors cause damage to the optic nerve, narrowing the field of vision. Regular eye pressure checkups are useful for early detection of glaucoma and ocular hypertension.
・OCT (ocular fundus three-dimensional computerized tomography): Using a device capable of CT scanning of the eye, a cross-section of the retina is taken to check the condition of the retina and optic nerve. Although it is a simple imaging procedure, it provides a lot of information and is useful for early detection and accurate diagnosis of glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and other conditions.
・Field of vision test: This process measures the sensitivity of the retina to light, examines the extent of the visual field and determines whether there are any defective areas. During the test, which takes about 5 minutes for both eyes, patients hold a buzzer in one hand and repeatedly press the buzzer when they recognize a light source appearing in the visual field. In addition to detecting glaucoma, it can lead to the diagnosis of optic nerve and intracranial diseases, psychogenic visual disorders, and retinal diseases.
Intraocular pressure testing using a non-contact tonometer
Humphrey visual field test
Example of the left eye of a patient with anterior segment glaucoma requiring observation (image courtesy of Taki Ophthalmology Clinic)
Jun Taki, a doctor and director of Taki Ophthalmology Clinic in Hyogo Prefecture that is one of the medical institutions cooperating with Santen's eye examinations, says, "In most cases, people don't visit an ophthalmologist unless they notice something wrong with their eyes or have an opportunity to get new glasses or contact lenses. Glaucoma is considered a disease with few subjective symptoms, and although it is said to affect mostly people in their 40s or older, there are cases where even people in their 20s are diagnosed with glaucoma when they are actually examined.”
"The examination of intraocular pressure, fundus, and visual field is very useful and important for early detection of eye diseases,” says Taki. “However, there are not many institutions that offer these examinations to their employees. For example, even large hospitals with many medical specialists and employees rarely offer such checkups to their staff. The fact that Santen has incorporated these into their own eye examinations is proof that they care deeply about the importance of eye health.”
Santen's eye examinations also include a dry-eye test. Dry eye not only causes eye discomfort and other symptoms; if left untreated, it can damage the cornea and other parts of the eye, leading to serious eye diseases.
The Osaka Study, a large-scale epidemiological study of dry eye conducted by Santen in 2011 among office workers, has shown that dry eye can affect daily life and overall health. For example, the study found that the loss of work productivity due to dry eye is equivalent to approximately 3 days of absenteeism per year, and also affects overall health and sleep quality and well-being, which are associated with metabolic syndrome. In terms of quality of life for employees, dry eye is not something to be taken lightly as a mere symptom of eye discomfort.
With the aim of using early detection and treatment of eye-related diseases to prevent loss of quality of life and visual impairment, Santen has always worked to raise awareness of various eye diseases and called publicly for eye examinations. “After undergoing the eye examination, I was able to reaffirm that I am also a patient," says Yuki Nakamura, MR (Medical Information Representative) of the Ophthalmology Division of Santen in Japan.
Says Nakamura, “When you have an eye examination, you may be surprised to learn that there are so many tests and devices applicable to the eye, despite it being such a small organ. It is said that in our daily lives, we obtain about 80% of our information through the eyes. Through various examinations I have had the opportunity to seriously think about eye health, which is so important. As an MR, I have been focusing on providing support for medical treatment and therapy, but I have also started to think more deeply about eye health from the perspective of disease awareness and prevention, which is the preliminary step. I am now working more than ever from the patient's point of view and thinking about what new added value Santen can provide to patients and doctors in my daily work.”
Dr. Taki summarizes her thoughts, noting, “Santen's eye examinations make a lot of sense for a company that specializes in ophthalmology and is committed to supporting the eye health of its employees. If we care about the health of our employees, I believe that more and more companies should adopt eye exams. I hope that Santen will lead the way in making eye examinations more widely available to the public.”
On March 8, 2023, Santen was recognized by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Japan Health Council* as an "Excellent Health Management Corporation 2023 (Large Corporation Category)." Santen will continue to contribute to the development of eye care through internal and external initiatives related to eye health.
* A body comprising private organizations, including economic entities, medical groups, and insurers, as well as local governments, working together to achieve specific measures in the workplace and in the community.
Doctor Taki of Taki Ophthalmology Clinic (right) and Santen MR Nakamura (left)