Dementia Friendly Eyecare

Dementia, and its associated loss of memory and thinking abilities, can affect the day-to-day activities of a person’s life and those caring for them. 

Routine appointments, like eye tests, can become a source of confusion, anxiety, and stress, but there are ways to help people with dementia to continue with their usual and important healthcare check-ups.

Problems with vision become more common as we get older but for someone with dementia, poor vision can also accentuate confusion, isolation, and challenges with communication, so ensuring your eyes and sight are looked after becomes even more important.

How dementia affects the eyes 

According to the NHS, there are more than 850,000 people in the UK who have dementia. One in 14 people over the age of 65 has dementia, and the condition affects one in six people over 80.

Dementia is a cognitive condition that primarily affects the brain, but it can impact other areas of health including the eyes. 

Sight loss affects around 250,000 people with dementia in the UK; vision problems can be caused by the dementia itself, normal ageing of the eye, or other eye health conditions.

It can be hard to distinguish the signs of vision problems from signs of dementia because symptoms are often similar. 

Because dementia can affect the part of their brain that controls visual information coming from the eyes, people with dementia can also have visual complexities such as hallucinations, misperceptions, and misidentifications. This means their eyes may be healthy, but they still have visual problems.

Having an eye test with dementia

It is possible and important to continue with routine health checks after a diagnosis of dementia and there are ways that your optometrist can help to make having an eye test easier. What’s more, eye examinations in the UK are free for people aged over 60.

If you know or are caring for someone with dementia, making appointments on their behalf and taking them to the appointments will be an important factor in supporting them. This is important both in terms of taking on the administrative burden that they may now find overwhelming, getting them there safely, and providing familiar reassurance during the appointment. 

Speak with the optometrist before the appointment to explain that you, or the person you are caring for, has dementia and they will be able to suggest ways to minimise the stress of being in an unfamiliar environment. The optometrist may need to give instructions and ask questions so having a family member or a friend there too can help with this and prevent the experience from being unsettling. 

For the longer term, appointing a Lasting Power of Attorney will mean that a trusted person can make healthcare decisions on your behalf in the future if you are no longer able to do so.

Book your eye examination today

If you or loved one has dementia, it is important to have regular eye checks with an optometrist, so that any problems associated with the eyes can be detected at their early stages.  

With regular eye checks, your optometrist can help to resolve and relieve any visual issues associated with dementia or any health condition affecting the eyes. 

If you have dementia, or are booking an appointment for someone with dementia, please let us know at the time of booking so that we can talk about how we can make the appointment as comfortable and easy as possible for you. 

Get in touch today to book an eye test in Lee-On-The-Solent or Wickham with one of our experienced optometrists.

Alternatively email lee@optomeyes-eyecare.co.uk or wickham@optomeyes-eyecare.co.uk and one of the team will call you back to book your appointment.