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.
We all rely on signage and we can be guilty of underestimating the importance of it.
Signage is a wayfinder – something to help us safely navigate the world around us.
In essence, using signage is a natural instinct.
Since the beginning of time animals and humans alike have taken directional cues from nature.
Getting from point A to point B is difficult without something to show us the way, or even our location.
Some animals overcome this with an incredible inbuilt sense of direction!
Did you know that a Sahara Desert Ant is able to walk in a straight line for miles?
By comparison, humans have a faulty internal sense of direction… a blindfolded or disorientated human will walk in circles.
As a species, we’re susceptible to losing our way even in an environment that we’re familiar with.
This makes us more reliant on signage and finding other ways to help us find our way.
Using landmarks to find our way
When we lose our way, our natural instincts kick in and we rely on mental-mapping and memory recall to help us find our way.
The part of the brain that controls these skills is called the hippocampus.
We use landmarks to determine our location, our destination and how to get there.
The term “landmark” here isn’t exclusive to famous buildings – it can be a school, a particularly big tree or even your staircase.
Navigation relies on the hippocampus retrieving memories, but it’s not always as simple as that and that can cause us to lose our way in familiar surroundings.
Simply put, it’s possible to recognise a landmark but be unable to recall where from.
Mental-mapping and memory recall can become more challenging if damage occurs to the hippocampus.
The hippocampus is usually one of the first areas that Alzheimer’s disease will damage.
Alzheimer’s makes it harder to recognise familiar objects, create new memories and learn new information.
With our vision and hearing pathways running separately, a person with Alzheimer’s may emotionally respond to a landmark, but be unable to recognise it or pair it with directional information.
As a result, someone living with Alzheimer’s is prone to confusion within their own home.
Seeing a landmark from a different angle that the hippocampus can’t recall can also be very disorientating.
Depending on the progression of the disease, this can make daily life just as disorientating, if not more, than life would be for us without signage.
Signposting is an excellent solution to help someone when they’re lost and disorientated in their own home.
Our range of dementia signage eases orientation around the home by design.
The colours, typeface and icons we use are researched and specifically selected for universal understanding and contrast.
Visioncall’s dementia signage is beneficial within the home, ensuring that everyone can navigate safely through their home.
To browse our range of dementia signage, click here.
Many of us know that a sight test identifies a change in prescription.
It indicates whether glasses could help someone to see better and live better.
Ultimately, a sight test is an important health check for our eyes.
It can detect common eye and general health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
An optician is better clinically equipped to provide an optics diagnosis and treatment than a GP is.
If needed, the optician might advise you to follow up with your GP to get things investigated further.
What’s a regular sight test?
The term “regular sight test” means having your eyes tested yearly or every two years.
Your optician will recommend the frequency depending on your age, family history, current eye health and eye conditions.
Why is a regular sight test important?
A regular sight test is useful to identify and monitor minor or major symptoms of common eye conditions.
It’s important to attend your regular sight test to help prevent potential eye health problems before a condition progresses.
Your local optician monitors your current level of vision, any symptoms and eye health every time you visit to measure changes.
This helps to identify any changes to your vision or eye health and the rate of change.
It’s possible to identify eye conditions before symptoms begin or become noticeable.
If certain eye conditions are found early, they are often successfully treated before they cause serious damage or sight loss.
A regular sight test is proactive eye care, to help us to see better and live better for longer.
How can Visioncall help?
When someone struggles to go to the high street for their regular sight test, we’ll come to you.
We are one of the UK’s leading home eye care providers in the care home sector.
Residential homes are really in need of this help and assistance to enable their residents to live richer lives.
People deserve to see better and live better, including if their home is within a care environment.
You probably won’t see us during visiting times as we visit during the day, but if you do see one of our team, be sure to say hi!
Helping others to see better and live better is at the heart of everything we do.
We know that better sight can enhance a person’s quality of life and a regular sight test is the starting place to help make this a reality.
We also know that at least half of all sight loss is avoidable, so there’s a real need to help people live richer lives.
For most of us, a quick visit to the local optician is all it takes.
However, it’s not as simple to visit the high street for those who require extra care.
That’s where Visioncall is able to help.
What difference can better sight make?
When a person can see better, they can live better.
Better sight can enable a person to look at photos of their loved ones, watch the TV or simply see their dinner.
It’s the things we take for granted that can help someone with poor vision lead a richer life.
Better sight can enable someone to engage in the world around them, and help an individual to maintain their independence.
Correcting the sight of someone with poor vision can help them to avoid bumps and reduce their risk of falls.
How can Visioncall help your residents?
Our experienced opticians will visit your residence – you can tell it’s us by our uniform and ID cards!
We also request a private space to ensure we maintain a person’s dignity and privacy.
In addition, our person-centred approach helps us select an appropriate testing method and informs a bespoke eye care recommendation.
Engaging appropriately with the individual, we identify a person’s lifestyle and activities that they can’t do anymore due to poor sight.
All of our opticians are dementia-trained to support non-communicative individuals objectively to help them to see better and live better.
If this conversation isn’t possible, our team will speak with the staff in charge of a particular person’s care.
Whether or not a person can communicate doesn’t determine whether or not they can benefit from better vision.
So we use an objective testing method which involves as little distress and probing as possible.
Subjective testing isn’t suitable for everyone, but we can reach the same outcome of better sight using either method.
However, to achieve better sight, it’s important to engage with our eye care solution from start to end.
This is because we work together with our partners to facilitate and support daily eye care, from a sight test to care planning and adaptation.
Stay posted to find out what part you can play to help your residents to see better and live better.
When we think about growing old, most of us don’t think about sight loss.
We tend to associate dementia, arthritis and incontinence with old age, ahead of the loss of vision.
However, sight loss can be just as emotionally and physically distressing as other conditions relating to growing old.
What is sight loss?
Sight loss, or visual impairment, is a reduced ability to see to an extent that can’t be corrected by glasses.
The causes of visual impairment can include reduction of peripheral or central vision, cloudy or blurred vision and dark spots.
These particular symptoms are caused by common eye conditions such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy.
What are the effects of sight loss?
Deteriorating vision can be restrictive and present challenges to daily life, including isolation, depression and an increased risk of falls.
Visual impairment can cause an independent person to struggle or feel embarrassed.
It’s natural to find it difficult to come to terms with a sight loss diagnosis as the future can seem scary, confusing or angering.
This is because there’s a correlation between sight loss and independence.
Loss of vision can contribute to a person living their worst nightmare of having to ask for help or rely on others.
So, it’s vital to consider the day-to-day safety of someone living with sight loss to facilitate and encourage their independence.
Adapting a daily routine and room layout are just some examples of how to increase independence and safety.
Visual impairment affects a person’s ability to navigate, recognise and engage with the world around them.
For those of us living without sight loss, this seems minor, but vision loss greatly reduces a person’s quality of life.
Visioncall understands that when a person can see better, they can live better too.
That’s why it’s our mission to help those who are unable to visit the local optician or to ask for help.
Is sight loss avoidable?
At least 50% of sight loss is avoidable, meaning it’s possible to help prevent its unnecessary effects.
Regular sight tests and proactive eye care throughout our lives can make a world of difference later in life.
A sight test can identify and monitor eye conditions, eye health and even some underlying health conditions like diabetes.
Having a regular sight test is the first step in achieving proactive eye care to help delay or prevent visual impairment.
As almost two-thirds of sight loss in older people is caused by uncorrected refractive error and cataract, the vital part of proactive eye care is remembering to wear spectacles.
It’s important to ensure we wear the correct and clean glasses for the tasks we need them for.
Although refractive error and cataract are not necessarily preventable, a sight test and proactive eye care can diagnose and monitor both.
To find out more about when your eyes are telling you it’s time for a sight test, click here.