Following our ‘in focus’ of glaucoma, we’re answering that all-important question, “what is a cataract?”.
In order to answer this, we’ll also highlight how this common eye condition can affect vision.
Did you know that an estimated 30% of people aged 65+ have a visually impairing cataract in one or both eyes?
What is a cataract?
A cataract is when the lens in our eyes becomes cloudy and affects how light enters the eye.
This condition forms inside the eye, rather than over it. It’s a common misconception that a cataract forms over or outside the eye.
A cataract can develop in either one or both of your eyes as part of the natural ageing of the eye.
As cataracts develop gradually, it means that any changes to your vision may not always be noticeable.
That’s why it’s important to attend your regular sight test to help diagnose or monitor the condition.
How can cataracts affect vision?
Cataracts can affect your vision and cause sight loss as the condition progresses.
As the condition causes cloudy, blurry or even misty vision, it can be difficult to see detail in the world around us.
It may become harder to carry out daily activities such as driving or even recognising faces.
The condition may also cause fading of colours, difficulty seeing in dim lit conditions and finding bright lights dazzling.
However, in a lot of cases vision can benefit from simply prescribing and wearing the correct glasses.
If you currently wear glasses, it may often seem like your glasses are dirty even when they’re clean.
Can the eye condition be treated?
If your cataract is severe and restricts your daily life, your optician may refer you for cataract surgery to treat the condition.
There’s no need to worry because the operation is a quick and routine procedure.
In fact, the surgery is usually offered as an outpatient appointment.
After surgeons remove the cloudy lens, they will insert a plastic or silicone lens.
The artificial lens is designed to not need replacing for the rest of your life.
Of course, with any surgery there are risks. However, cataract surgery is one of the most common operations in the UK and is highly successful.
Whether you wear glasses to ease your symptoms or need surgery, it’s possible to see better and live better with cataracts.
Falls prevention through eye care is more important than we think.
Our vision naturally deteriorates as we age and with decreased vision comes an increase in the risk of falls.
Dementia and cognitive impairment can also lead to an increase in the risk of falls.
How can eye care help to prevent falls?
Falls prevention is possible through enhancing or maintaining vision with the help of eye care.
Eye care can help to maintain vision and help enable a person to safely navigate the world around them.
Our daily eye care guide highlights proactive steps to help maintain or improve vision.
Better vision can help a person see obstructions, steps or anything else that may cause them to have a bump or fall.
An important part of eye care includes having a regular sight test and as a result, having a correct prescription.
However, the benefit of a correct prescription is only felt when wearing the correct and most up-to-date pair of glasses.
In fact, wearing glasses with an older prescription can actually increase a person’s risk of falls, rather than prevent falls.
So, wearing an older prescription can be dangerous to a person’s safety, unless otherwise advised by your optician.
Ultimately, eye care can help to maintain or enhance sight and help to prevent falls.
How can a fall affect someone?
Falls can be dangerous or even life-threatening.
Moreover, a fall or the fear of falling can seriously damage a person’s confidence, self-esteem and even their independence.
This may discourage the individual from being mobile or participating in the world around them.
Lack of engagement and movement can result in depression, isolation, bed sores and sore joints.
These situations are often avoidable through proactively using eye care to reduce a person’s risk of falls.
Our optometrists use their soft skills and take the time to make sure we deliver person-centred care.
All of our optometrists receive training to help them engage with verbal and non-verbal individuals.
Visioncall’s understanding team
Our office team and dispensers work tirelessly with our optometrists to deliver our eye care solution.
It’s vital that everyone has a regular sight test to spot changes in prescription and identify or monitor any eye conditions.
Being able to understand a person helps to put them at ease, enabling them to undergo the essential sight test that they need.
We understand that most of the people we help are unable to pop down to the high street to visit the optician.
This is why we take the optician to them!
We take the time to understand
Visioncall’s empathetic optometrists and dispensers take the time to understand a person’s needs and preferences.
We use our eye care planning tools to help us achieve this.
A one-on-one engagement can help to ease an individual during their sight test as well as when browsing our frame range.
These conversations are key to informing a necessary and appropriate eye care recommendation for each person we help.
Our eye care recommendation is relevant as it helps a person know what tasks they should wear their glasses for.
A suitable sight test
Our optometrists often make use a subjective sight test (the one with a letter chart).
You’ll probably be familiar with it since this is the testing method we’re most likely to have.
However, if a person can’t respond to subjective testing due to agitation or communication difficulties, our optometrists understand.
Our experienced optometrists determine how suitable the letter chart is for each person.
Some people are able to better respond to a number or picture chart than a letter chart.
Visioncall were able to develop a high-resolution and universal picture chart using Kay’s picture cards to enable sight tests for more people.
However, an optometrist should also be able to offer a sight test for non-communicative individuals.
Visioncall’s optometrists can carry out an objective sight test if subjective testing isn’t suitable for a person.
Since objecting testing doesn’t require a verbal response, it’s ideal for anyone who finds it difficult to communicate.
This helps to ensure that everyone can undergo a sight test to receive an accurate prescription and an eye health check.
To find out more about our dedicated people, click here.
Learning more about a person is key in delivering person-centred eye care.
However, it’s how we use this information that makes the difference to help people see better and live better.
Delivering person-centred care requires empathy, patience and the appropriate tools to tailor the care.
How does Visioncall deliver person-centred eye care?
Visioncall optometrists personalise their approach and eye care recommendation to meet each individual’s needs.
Our optometrists undergo dementia-friendly training to help them engage with both verbal and non-communicative individuals.
This helps to ensure that everyone can have a sight test and eye health check.
Person-centred care focusses on understanding the needs of everyone and so do our optometrists.
Our eye care planning tools (Lifestyle Questionnaire, Lifestyle Passport and Eyewear Reminder) help gather and clearly display a person’s visual needs.
The Lifestyle Questionnaire helps our optometrists to identify which activities a person enjoys.
The information we learn will help to inform their eye care recommendation.
A one-on-one conversation between our optician and an individual lets us know their routine, hobbies and assess any daily needs.
This ensures that any eye care recommendation is appropriate and necessary to help them to see better and live better.
Simply put, our Lifestyle Questionnaire is essential in delivering person-centred eye care as it gathers relevant information to inform care.
Information from the Lifestyle Questionnaire generates a succinct summary of an individual’s eye care needs, known as a Lifestyle Passport.
Our Lifestyle Passport offers care providers with an overview of a person’s level of vision with and without their glasses.
It also shows any eye conditions that they may have and provides information on the reverse.
As eye care should be part of a person’s daily routine to help them to see better and live better, our Lifestyle Passport is the perfect addition to their care plan!
The Eyewear Reminder displays a person’s correct glasses and the activities to wear them for.
It’s most beneficial when on display in a visible living area to ensure correct glasses are worn.
Glasses are only useful when worn appropriately and wearing the correct glasses is vital to help an individual to see better and live better.
Enhanced sight can encourage participation in activities that they may otherwise avoid for fear of falls.
Working with our partners to deliver person-centred care
Visioncall works with care partners to raise awareness of eye care and eye conditions.
Our care planning tools are most effective when they’re actively used on a daily basis.
So, we also guide our partners on how to make the most of them.
The information can help care providers adapt caregiving to fulfil a person’s eye care needs.
We do this because we know that when a person can see better, they can live better too.
Eye conditions become more common as we age and it’s all in your family history!
Our family history of eye health helps us know what to keep an eye out for.
For example, ethnicity is an important part of your family history as it affects your risk of certain eye conditions.
People of Asian or Afro-Caribbean descent are more likely to develop a common eye condition than other groups of our society.
So, it’s worth paying attention to your family’s eye health so you know what to look out for!
It’s also important to attend your regular sight test to increase the chance of early detection of an eye condition.
Usually, the earlier an eye condition is diagnosed, the easier it is to successfully treat or reduce further deterioration.
Who does my family history include?
When your optician asks about your family history of eye health, remember to mention your parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles.
Inheriting our parents’ eyes
Eye colour isn’t the only thing that we inherit from our parents!
We can also inherit a number of eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataract and astigmatism.
Knowing your family history is especially important if you’re a parent and your child is having a sight test. Please provide as much information as possible to your child’s optometrist.
Your family history tells an optician which common eye conditions you’re more likely to develop.
A regular sight test monitors symptoms and progression of any eye conditions.
Your optician will tell you when your next sight test is due. This is determined by your risk factors, including your family history.
It’s important to follow your optician’s advice as well as looking after your eyes on a daily basis.
Common eye conditions and ethnicity
People of Asian or Afro-Caribbean origin are more likely to develop a common eye condition than people of different origins.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
The Afro-Caribbean population have a greater risk of AMD under the age of 60 compared with the Caucasian population.
On the other hand, those of Caucasian origin are more likely to develop AMD over the age of 60 compared with those of Afro-Caribbean origin.
Those from an Asian background are more likely to develop cataract compared with those from an Afro-Caribbean or Caucasian background.
People of Afro-Caribbean heritage are 4 to 8 times more likely to develop glaucoma than those of Caucasian heritage.
People of Asian and Afro-Caribbean origin have a greater risk of diabetic retinopathy compared with people of Caucasian origin.
However, those of Asian heritage are 3 times more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy than those of Caucasian heritage.
While a refractive error isn’t an eye condition, it is a common eye disorder.
It occurs when the shape of the eye can’t focus light rays correctly.
People of Caucasian origin are more likely to develop a refractive error than people of Afro-Caribbean origin.
The importance of daily eye care
Looking after your eyes between visits to your optician is crucial.
Daily eye care can help to keep your eyes otherwise healthy, especially if your family history means you have a greater risk of an eye condition.
While healthy eyes may not prevent an eye condition, they may help to delay the onset or progression of an eye condition.
Daily eye care is essential to try to maintain our eyesight and eye health so we can see better and live better for longer.
What is eye care?
When we think about eye care, we tend to associate it with just a sight test.
However, eye care doesn’t start or end with a sight test.
Eye care involves a number of proactive daily behaviours – in addition to having a regular sight test.
Daily eye care advice
The following daily eye care steps can help you care for your eyes between visits to your optician:
Wear the correct glasses
If you need glasses, remember to wear your correct and most current pair of glasses for tasks they’re required for.
Wearing the correct glasses can help to prevent eye strain, headaches and vision from deteriorating.
If you’re not sure when you need to wear your glasses, speak to your optician.
Protect your eyes from UV light by wearing close-fit wraparound sunglasses to minimise the sunlight reaching your eyes.
This will help to reduce your long-term risk of developing a cataract as a result of overexposure to UV rays.
A balanced diet
Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and vitamins C and E can help to support your eye from age-related vision problems like macular degeneration.
Foods that naturally contain these supplements include leafy greens, oily fish, eggs, beans, nuts and citrus fruits.
Reducing the frequency or avoiding harmful habits and junk food can improve your overall health and keep your eyes healthy.
Smoking damages tissue in the eye through an increase in the number of free radicals which speed up ageing.
In addition, smoking also affects the body’s absorption of necessary minerals and vitamins.
The accelerated ageing and lack of vitamins mean that smoking can double the risk of sight loss, as well as increasing the risk of age-related eye conditions, particularly macular-degeneration and cataract.
For advice and support on quitting smoking, visit the NHS website here.
Regular sight test
While a regular sight test is an essential part of eye care, it’s important to remember that a sight test is not the only step to take to maintain eyesight and eye health.
It’s vital that you attend your regular sight test to monitor your prescription and eye health.
A regular sight test is every two years unless your optician advises otherwise.
Remember to use our eye care advice between your regular sight test!
To kick off our ‘in focus’ series, we’re taking a closer look at glaucoma and how it can affect vision.
Did you know that Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable sight loss in the UK?
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a common eye condition that damages the optic nerve and can cause sight loss.
The optic nerve transmits visual information from your eye to your brain to process.
A regular sight test can detect and diagnose glaucoma, which is why it’s important to attend your regular sight test.
How does glaucoma affect vision?
Glaucoma affects the peripheral field of vision first.
As severe damage creates a ‘tunnel effect’ in your vision, it can be difficult to read, drive and safely navigate the world around us without peripheral vision.
The damage can lead to an eventual loss of central vision if left untreated, but blindness is rare.
Vision deteriorates slower with the most common type of glaucoma, primary angle open glaucoma.
What causes glaucoma?
Damage occurs to the optic nerve when there is too much or too little pressure at the back of the eye.
Unfortunately, any damage to vision is irreversible as the optic nerve’s fibres can’t regenerate themselves.
Early detection of the condition allows for monitoring and treatment to help delay progression and prevent further sight loss.
The good news is that lowering eye pressure and using drops can help treat glaucoma.
That’s why it’s vital to attend your regular sight test, so your optician can help you to see better and live better for longer.
What are the types of glaucoma?
There are 4 main types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma, secondary glaucoma and congenital glaucoma.
Primary open-angle glaucoma progresses slowly and is the most common type of the condition.
Angle-closure glaucoma is a rare type of glaucoma, occurring slowly (chronic) or rapidly (acute) with pressure painfully building-up in the eye.
Secondary glaucoma is the result of another eye condition like uveitis (inflammation of the eye’s middle layer).
Congenital glaucoma is a rare (sometimes inherited) form of the condition resulting from developmental issues of the eye’s drainage system. This type of glaucoma is typically diagnosed by the age of 1.
Keep an eye out for signs of glaucoma
This closer look at glaucoma highlights the need for a regular sight test to assist early detection of the condition.
There are usually no warning signs for the most common type of glaucoma (primary open-angle), so a regular sight test is a must.
On the other hand, pain and redness of the eyes can indicate a different form of glaucoma.
If you experience these symptoms or your regular sight test is due you should visit your local opticians.
Remember, early detection of glaucoma can help delay progression and preserve your sight, helping you to see better and live better for longer.
There’s more to protecting eyes from UV light than meets the eye!
What is UV light?
Ultraviolet light (UV light) is a type of radiation that is invisible to the naked eye.
Radiation is the movement and transfer of energy or heat through objects.
Many objects emit radiation, from light bulbs and mobile phones to microwaves and the sun.
Background radiation is the term for the low levels of radiation that are all around us.
On the other hand, nuclear power plants create huge amounts of radiation, but the reactor typically safely contains this.
If a nuclear reactor is severely damaged it’s possible for radiation to escape and harm the environment around it – such as with Fukushima and Chernobyl.
How to protect your eyes from UV light
Our eyes are more sensitive to UV light than our skin is, so actively protecting eyes from UV light is vital.
Longer daylight hours and sunny weather bring an increase in UV exposure from the sun.
Prolonged exposure to UV rays without appropriate eye protection can be harmful to our eyes.
You don’t have to be looking directly at the sun for UV light to enter your eyes.
However, we strongly advise that you don’t look directly at the sun as this can also cause severe damage to the eye.
Sunglasses are more than a fashion statement – they’re essential for protecting our eyes from UV light.
Close-fitting wraparound sunglasses provide the best protection as they reduce how much stray sunlight reaches your eyes from above and around your lenses.
When buying sunglasses always look out for the CE, UV 400 or British Standard markings as they indicate a safe level of protection for your eyes.
While some contact lenses provide UV protection, they don’t cover your whole eye, so you still need sunglasses.
Whether you’re travelling to work or on holiday, remember to wear sunglasses to reduce the UV exposure to your eyes.
UV light isn’t exclusive to sunny days
Did you know that our eyes need protection from UV light even when the sun isn’t out?
Surprisingly, the risk of UV exposure can be quite high even on overcast days because UV rays can penetrate clouds.
Eyes also need protection from UV rays that reflect from surfaces into the eye.
Sunglasses can protect your eyes from UV light in ‘high glare areas’ such as near snow or water.
This means that you should remember to wear sunglasses even when you’re in the shade as your eyes will still be exposed to UV rays reflecting from buildings, roads and other surfaces!
You don’t have to fear sunny days or being outdoors.
Equipping the correct eye and skin protection reduces your exposure to UV light.
While a sight test is fairly routine, it’s important to consider easing anxiety for those who find it a struggle.
Anxiety, stress and frustration can be the result of a fear of eyes (ommetaphobia), communication difficulties or general discomfort.
Many conditions can make people feel socially or emotionally uncomfortable, which can cause them to not provide all of the relevant information.
It’s important that an optometrist has the means to engage with these individuals and help ease their anxiety.
As a sight test contributes to our general health, it’s important that optometrists have the means to engage with all individuals.
So it is essential the optometrist will take the time to communicate with them.
How can Visioncall ease sight test anxiety?
Visioncall optometrists undergo training to understand and respond appropriately based on the individual’s needs.
We train our optometrists to deliver a sight test with dignity, integrity and respect for the individual.
Presenting in a calm, friendly and respectful manner helps ensure the person is comfortable.
When an individual is calm and co-operative, our optometrist is then able to carry out a sight test.
We know that a subjective response isn’t always possible though (i.e. responding to a letter chart).
So our optometrists are trained to use alternative equipment to deliver an objective sight test to non-communicative individuals.
By easing sight test anxiety using this skill set, we can enable a person to have a regular sight test.
However, it’s vital that the individual is co-operative and willing to sit (even briefly) so our optometrist can carry out the sight test.
A regular sight test is important to check for any changes in a person’s prescription and their eye health.
Someone who experiences anxiety, stress and agitation during a sight test still needs their sight and eye health checked.
As Visioncall optometrists make use of both subjective and objective testing, these individuals are able to have a regular sight test.
Visioncall understands that when a person can see better, they can live better.
Additional care needs
A person with expressed additional care needs may not be in a position to clearly communicate their needs or concerns to someone in charge of their care.
It’s important that when we care for those who need additional care, we’re able to communicate with them.
Empathy and patience enable caring professionals to engage and draw a verbal or non-verbal response from a person.
This response is vital to truly understand a person’s needs and preferences.
Avoiding assumptions about a person’s preferences is key to achieving person-centred care.
That’s why Visioncall ensures that all of our optometrists and dispensers are trained extensively.
Easing sight test anxiety is possible simply by communicating and listening to an individual.
Visioncall can help maintain independence with eye care in a care residence.
Independence is important to all of us, whether we live in a care residence or with our loved ones.
We naturally need to feel in control of our life – make our own important decisions and control our finances etc.
Independence means not being dependent on others (if we have the capacity).
We can experience the feeling of independence through small tasks or responsibilities.
It’s more to do with feeling like you don’t rely on others and less to do with feeling like a burden.
Independence is empowerment.
It can be challenging to maintain independence with eye care for people living within a care environment, but it’s important not to overlook it.
Vision, eye care and independence
There’s a link between vision and independence – and it’s more important than we think.
That’s because we know that when a person can see better, they can live better too.
The benefit of better vision actually goes beyond being able to see the world more clearly.
Better sight can help ease the feelings of isolation and depression that limited mobility can cause.
Enhanced vision through glasses, improved lighting and signage can also reduce the risk of falls.
This can help boost an individual’s confidence in their mobility and encourage engagement with the world around them.
Ultimately, wearing the correct glasses is empowering and helps to maintain independence, especially within a care residence.
Maintaining independence in the home with Visioncall
We provide bespoke eye care planning documents for every person that we assist.
Making use of these person-centred documents can also help to maintain a person’s independence.
For example, our Lifestyle Passport indicates a person’s eye care needs and any eye conditions they may have.
This personalised information is useful in guiding caregiving, and more importantly, care adaptations.
For instance, if someone has lost their central vision due to Macular Degeneration it’s important to tell them who you are as you approach them.
Being aware of surroundings when living with sight loss can help someone to feel independent.
To find out more about how Visioncall can help maintain independence within your home, click here.