‘I’m an optometrist – a sign in the eyes is a little-known symptom of dementia’

Dr Hilary lists the early symptoms of dementia

Dementia is a syndrome associated with an ongoing decline of brain functioning.

It’s estimated that there are nearly a million (994,000) people in the UK who are living with dementia, and this number is increasing because people are living for longer.

Alongside forgetfulness, slower thinking speed, and a less social nature are also considered key signs of dementia.

According to Roshni Patel, qualified optometrist and Head of Professional Services at Lenstore, another symptom is sight loss.

But as sight loss is also common as we age, this can often be overlooked.

READ MORE ‘I lost my wife to Alzheimer’s’ – symptoms of dementia

Roshni explained: “Dementia and sight loss both become more common the older you get.

“Around one in nine people over the age of 60 are living with sight loss, and around one in 11 people in this age bracket are living with dementia.

“But people with dementia can also have visual problems caused by the brain, even if their eyes are still healthy.

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“Dementia can cause a variety of changes in the brain, including how the brain processes the information the eyes bring in and how the eyes see.

“It can be difficult to tell the difference between sight loss symptoms and dementia, as conditions can be confused or mistaken for the effect of the other.

“That’s why it’s important that someone with dementia has their sight examined regularly, as eye tests can identify eye conditions that may cause sight loss problems without early treatment.”

Roshni recommended things to do at home to help someone living with both sight loss and dementia:

Clean their glasses regularly and ensure they’re the right prescription

To help make the most of their vision, it’s important to take good care of their eyes by making sure glasses are clean and of the correct prescription for the individual, said Roshni.

Make it easier for them to find things

Adapting the person’s environment is another step we can take to aid those suffering from an eye condition and dementia, said Roshni, from improving lighting around the house, using contrasting colours to ensure things are easy to differentiate, and keeping areas familiar and clean.

Check in with experts

Regular consulting their GP and optometrist will help support the independence and confidence of an individual too which is really important, said Roshni.

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