Specsavers now has at least one fully trained Dementia Friend in each of its stores across the UK to provide better support for customers with the condition.

Dementia Friends initiative 

This follows recent research which revealled  that half (47%)¹ of dementia patients in care homes are wearing glasses with the wrong prescription.

Despite being eligible for home eye tests on the NHS, many patients suffering from dementia rely on old glasses fitted more than two years ago, which can lead to increased isolation and confusion.

The Dementia Friends initiative is run by the Alzheimer’s Society and is designed to cover all aspects of the condition and how it affects people.

Regular eye health checks

The research, undertaken by the University of Southampton²,  revealed that in a representative sample of more than 700 participants suffering from dementia, almost half had a visual impairment caused by an incorrect prescription. 

In addition, the majority of the remaining 50%³ were affected by cataracts, which can also be corrected through surgery.

The RNIB, which has partnered with Specsavers on the Transforming Eye Health campaign, is highlighting the research as part of a push to raise awareness of the importance of regular eye health checks. 

Struggle to articulate issues

Dr Nigel Best, Specsavers clinical spokesperson, says: ‘Patients with dementia may not be able to recognise or articulate the issues that many of us face when we begin to lose our sight or hearing – but the effects are the same.

‘Sight loss can be isolating and confusing for those with dementia, which is why we recommend regular eye health assessments.’

A safe environment

Dementia describes different brain disorders that trigger a loss of brain function.

These conditions are all usually progressive and eventually severe. Laura Stallerbrass, store manager at Specsavers Forfar, has put all her team through the training.

Laura explains: ‘We aim to provide a safe environment for all of our customers. I can definitely see a shift in attitudes to dementia which is lovely to experience.’

Specsavers is also using Dementia Awareness Week to remind anyone over 55 to undergo regular hearing tests, as research suggests that people with untreated hearing loss are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Hearing tests are free at Specsavers.

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¹ ² ³ The Prevalence of Visual Impairment in People with Dementia (the PrOVIDe study): a cross-sectional study of people aged 60–89 years with dementia and qualitative exploration of individual, carer and professional perspectives - Michael Bowen, David F Edgar, Beverley Hancock, Sayeed Haque, Rakhee Shah, Sarah Buchanan, Steve Iliffe, Susan Maskell, James Pickett, John-Paul Taylor, and Neil O’Leary. (July 16)

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