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Optical | Health and expertise | Press release | Sight loss isolating half of dementia patients

Sight loss isolating half of dementia patients

21 february 2018

Press release

FOLLOWING recent research revealing that half (47%)[1] of dementia patients in care homes are wearing glasses with the wrong prescription, Specsavers now has at least one fully trained Dementia Friend in each of its stores across the UK.

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. 

To support customers with dementia, Specsavers is providing dementia awareness training for its employees nationwide. The Dementia Friends initiative is run by the Alzheimer’s Society and involves comprehensive training designed to cover all aspects of the condition and how it affects people.

The research, undertaken by the University of Southampton[2], 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.

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

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.
‘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.’
- ENDS -
[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)
Specsavers notes to editors
  • Specsavers is a Partnership of almost 2,000 locally-run businesses throughout the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Spain, Australia and New Zealand, all committed to delivering high quality, affordable optical and hearing care in the communities they serve
  • Each store is part-owned and managed by its own directors who are supported by key specialists in support offices that provide a range of services including marketing, accounting, IT and wholesaling, among others
  • There are currently more than 1,200 partners in the UK and Republic of Ireland alone, of whom over 500 have been with the Partnership for at least ten years
  • Specsavers was founded in 1984 by husband and wife team, Doug and Dame Mary Perkins, who pioneered the optical joint venture partnership model and also revolutionised the industry with their innovative concept of affordable, fashionable eyecare for everyone
  • Specsavers is a champion of the National Health Service – of its 19.2m customers in the UK, 60% are from the NHS and the company is the largest provider of free NHS digital hearing aids
  • Specsavers is the largest employer of registered optometrists and dispensing opticians in the UK (around 3,500)
  • Total revenue for the Specsavers Group was over £2 billion in 2014/2015
  • Specsavers stores employ more than 30,000 staff globally
  • More than one in three people who wear glasses in the UK buy them from Specsavers - 10,800,000 glasses were exported from the warehouse to stores in 2013
  • Specsavers has more than a million customers on contact lenses  direct debit schemes. Specsavers' own contact lens brand - easyvision - is the most known on the high street
  • The hearcare business in the UK has established itself as the number one high street provider of adult audiology services to the NHS
  • Specsavers supports several UK charities including Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, Sound Seekers, the road safety charity Brake, the anti-bullying charity Kidscape and Vision Aid Overseas, for whom stores have raised enough funds to build a school of optometry in Zambia and open eyecare outreach clinics in much of the country.