Tag Archives: optometrist

Charles Bonnet Syndrome

Are you a fan of Coronation Street? If so, you’ll have seen their latest storyline, covering a health issue that most of us may be unfamiliar with but currently affects more than 100,000 people in the UK: Charles Bonnet Syndrome.

But what is this condition, who is affected, and how is it treated?

The facts

Charles Bonnet Syndrome is a sight condition that causes hallucinations.

It affects sufferers of macular degeneration – a gradual loss of sight – and it’s more common than you might think.

It’s estimated that up to half of all patients with macular degeneration will experience Charles Bonnet Syndrome at some point. 

It can affect people of any age, but generally, it tends to occur with patients later in life, which we see in our care home patients from time to time.

Macular degeneration causes patches or ‘black spots’ in the vision, meaning the brain doesn’t receive as much information as it used to. 

With Charles Bonnet Syndrome, the brain works to fill in the gaps, creating patterns or hallucinations. 

Patients can report anything from seeing children running across their bedrooms to spiders on the walls, colourful patterns or rooms changing shape.

What is it like?

Although not often scary in nature, hallucinations can be unsettling to experience – you’d undoubtedly get a fright from suddenly seeing a stranger or an animal appear in your home or seeing the room shift in shape or size. 

They can also cause practical problems, with patients who see more complex hallucinations struggling with mobility or being unable to judge where they are or which direction they can walk in, depending on how distorted the vision becomes.

Is it a sign of dementia?

In a nutshell, no. Many patients mistake Charles Bonnet Syndrome-related hallucinations for dementia or even a mental health issue, but Charles Bonnet Syndrome is an ocular condition. 

Understandably, hallucinations can cause patients to worry that they have dementia or another condition, but generally if patients experience hallucinations without any signs of dementia or mental illness, they will probably have Charles Bonnet Syndrome.

How can it be treated?

Currently, there isn’t a cure for Charles Bonnet Syndrome, although hallucinations often improve over time, becoming shorter or less frequent.

However, there are things that patients and carers can do to help. 

Simply reassuring the patient that hallucinations are signs of sight loss, not dementia or mental health issues, can be beneficial for patients, and reminds them that what they’re seeing isn’t real. 

Similarly, making sure that patients are familiar with their surroundings can also help them feel reassured when hallucinations make things look different.

If you are concerned about Charles Bonnet Syndrome or think you or someone else may be suffering from it, Visioncall’s optometrists are trained to help eye health conditions affecting the older population, including Charles Bonnet Syndrome and macular degeneration, and can provide advice and guidance.

For the latest news and updates from Visioncall, stay posted here on our company blog and follow us on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.

 

Winter eye health blog

You might already know that your eyes need a little extra care in the summer months, but did you know that they need just as much attention in the winter? 

With plummeting temperatures, snow and ice, dark evenings and artificial heating on in our homes, it’s no wonder that this season can play havoc with our eyes.

Here are some easy-to-follow tips to help keep your eyes healthy and bright this winter:

1 – Keep eyes moisturized

The combination of chilly temperatures and central heating can leave your eyes feeling sore and dry. 

To keep eyes moist and reduce irritation, use eye drops, or place a warm, damp cloth over closed eyes to ease soreness.

You can also lower the temperature on your central heating, use a humidifier to bring moisture back into the room, or most straightforward of all, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated!

2 – Vary your activities

We tend to stay indoors much more during winter, which means we’re more likely to spend the day in one place, watching TV, reading or doing close-focus work like knitting. 

Concentrating like this for more extended periods means we blink less often, which can cause dry eyes. 

Remember to blink frequently, and practice the 20x20x20 rule (every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds) to restore moisture to the eyes.

3 – Use the right lighting

Good lighting is essential in the home, especially in winter, when natural light is significantly lower. 

Dull, dim lighting can cause eye strain, headaches and redness.

Keep the curtains open as much as possible, and use multiple light sources around the room, increase light without relying on an overhead light, and shading the bulbs so that you’re not looking directly at them. 

If reading or writing, use a desk lamp with directed light to limit eye strain.

4 – Wear sunglasses

Yes, even in winter! The sun sitting lower, snowfall and ice can all create reflective surfaces that bounce UV rays around, so it’s vital to shield your eyes. 

Glasses with polarized lenses can help with this, to protect your eyes when the light is low.

5 – Eat for your eyes

Generally, we need more vitamins and minerals in winter, to aid in good overall health, but this is especially true for eyes. 

A diet packed with the right ingredients can all support eye health, helping you to stay bright-eyed this winter. 

Try filling your plate with things like salmon, tuna and oily fish, green leafy vegetables, eggs, nuts and beans, and plenty of citrus fruits to keep your eyes healthy, moisturized and in tip-top condition. 

Remember to drink plenty of water too!

For the latest news and updates from Visioncall, stay posted here on our company blog and follow us on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.

Nine eye health signs blog image

We’re all taking more responsibility for our health than ever before, but for many, you may also be doing this for your elderly relatives. 

While most of us know the signs to look out for with many health conditions, we understand that you might not be so familiar with eye health conditions.

While regular check-ups are being disrupted like everything else at the moment, we want to help you take care of your vision and eye health, and that of those around you who might be at higher risk of issues developing. 

These are the signs to look out for, to know when additional or urgent care may be needed.

1 – No longer enjoying their hobbies

Have they started showing less interest in activities they usually enjoy, such as reading, knitting, or watching television or do they seem to be struggling with them? 

It might be that their prescription is no longer suitable, so it’s worth checking that they can still see the things they enjoy.

2 – Showing less interest in food

If your relative seems less interested in eating, or if they regularly only eat half of their plate of food, this may be a sign that sight loss is partially clouding their vision.

3 – Increased anxiety or reluctance to socialise

If they’re usually the life and soul, or love going out for a walk, and now no longer seem keen, it may be that their vision isn’t as clear as it used to be. 

Similarly, unexplained bumps and bruises may signify that they’re struggling to see clearly and may be afraid of trips and falls.

4 – Dust and dirt on the walls

Does your relative see dust and dirt on the walls or dark marks in the sky? If you can’t see them, this may be a sign that they’re experiencing floaters. 

Floaters are generally harmless, but if they persist, can be a sign of an underlying health condition and may need to be checked out.

5 – Changes in vision

Complaining that things look blurred or misty, or that their glasses are dirty (even when they’re not) may be a sign of cataracts developing. 

Similarly, feeling that lights are too bright or that colours look faded can also indicate possible cataracts.

6 – Seeing rainbows

Glaucoma is a condition that develops gradually and is often only picked up during an eye test, but symptoms include seeing rainbow-coloured circles around bright lights or reporting blurred vision.

7 – Sudden changes or extreme symptoms

In some cases, glaucoma can come on suddenly and required urgent treatment. 

If your loved one is experiencing nausea, vomiting, a headache, red eyes or eye tenderness, you should request urgent treatment at A&E or call 111.

8 – Hallucinations and altered vision

Macular degeneration is another condition to be aware of, with symptoms including blurred vision; seeing black spots in the centre of their vision; seeing straight lines as wavy; objects appearing smaller or duller than they used to, or even experiencing hallucinations.

9 – Extreme changes in vision

If your loved one reports a ‘curtain’ or shadow moving across their vision, or if they complain of double vision, light sensitivity, distorted vision or red and painful eyes, it’s recommended to call 111 or visit A&E for urgent treatment.

If you’re concerned about a friend, relative or patient’s vision or eye health, get in touch to make an appointment.

For the latest news and updates from Visioncall, stay posted here on our company blog and follow us on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.

Visioncall Home Visit Blog

Wash your hands, cover your face and socially distance – the whole world is rightly following that mantra just now, but at Visioncall, we take our hygiene and safety measures a step further for all home visits.  

Good hygiene has always been a fundamental part of what we do and how we operate, but it has never been more important than during the global Coronavirus pandemic. 

Already operating with strict hygiene measures in place, we responded to the crisis by immediately implementing an updated hygiene and infection control policy, allowing our optometrists and opticians to safely visit patients in need of urgent treatment in care homes limiting the risk of virus transmission.

We are committed to ensuring the safety of our team, care home staff, and, of course, our patients, so this policy supports care homes at every stage. 

The policy continues to evolve as the situation changes so that our practice remains as safe as possible.

To reassure you, our service users and clinical partners, we share an insight into what a Visioncall appointment looks like now, from start to finish, with these infection control measures in place.

Our Team

All Visioncall clinicians have undergone Infection Prevention & Control training, reviewed regularly in line with governing bodies’ advice. 

We have embraced working from home, and we’ve worked hard to reduce the touchpoints during appointments, making changes such as digitising our record card keeping.

We are currently prioritising essential and emergency sight tests to limit our attendance at care homes, but we are always here for you, whenever you need us. 

We also now operate a one-to-one remote triage service for homes that we cannot visit personally, so treatment is always available.

Pre-Arrival

When we need to attend an appointment at a care home, we contact the home 72 hours in advance, and again on the day of the clinic, to ensure there are no active Covid-19 outbreaks. 

We always offer to send our Infection Control Policy ahead of the visit for care home staff to review, and we discuss our specific protocols with them, including the PPE they can expect us to wear. 

Our optometrists and opticians are fully briefed before every appointment, and they are provided with full PPE and sanitising equipment, including hand gel.

Arrival

We aim to have only one team member visit care homes and travel there alone. 

On arrival, we don a face mask, complete the home’s Covid-19 checks, including completing temperature logs and undergoing lateral flow tests, and we wash our hands thoroughly. 

All outerwear is left in the car, or we bag this upon entry.

The Appointment

Once our checks are complete, we locate a private testing area which offers good ventilation. 

We sanitise all the surfaces and don full PPE – this includes gloves, surgical masks, aprons and visors.

Sight tests are slightly different now. We have adapted our routines to observe social distancing and try to minimise physical contact with patients wherever possible.

So we may ask patients to remove their spectacles or lenses themselves, pull their lower lids down if eye drops need to be administered, or to avoid touching their eyes, mouth and nose.

Following a sight test, we sanitise all surfaces again and all equipment, spectacle frames and anything else that the patient may have been in contact with. 

We remove our gloves and apron, and don a fresh set, in preparation for the next patient – we also regularly wash our hand’s in-between appointments before donning fresh PPE, or whenever we think that our hands may have become contaminated in any way.

Post Appointment

All used PPE is discarded into an appropriate clinical waste bag. We again wash our hands before exiting the home.

We update our record cards digitally and keep in touch with the home to be updated with any outbreaks or the potential requirement to self-isolate or get tested, as necessary.

The safety of our team, care home staff and patients is of the utmost importance. We are happy to answer any questions you may have around how Visioncall is working to limit the risk of transmission, every day.

If you’re concerned about a friend, relative or patient’s vision or eye health, get in touch to make an appointment.

For the latest news and updates from Visioncall, stay posted here on our company blog and follow us on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.

Jeans Story Blog

At Visioncall, we believe that looking after our eyes is incredibly important. We’re proud to be able to make a difference to our patients’ lives every day. 

But occasionally, a story comes to us that shows us all over again the impact that our work has, not only on the patient themselves, but their families, or carers that are with them around the clock.

One such story is Jean, an 85-year-old resident at Cherry Lodge care home in Birmingham, who underwent lifechanging cataract surgery in 2019. 

We spoke to Jean’s carer, Lauren, who experienced first-hand the difference that Visioncall made to Jean’s life and made her, in Lauren’s words, “a whole new woman.”

When Jean arrived at Cherry Lodge, she was almost entirely blind and required 24-hour one-to-one support.

The impact of reduced vision

“When Jean first came here, she couldn’t see at all,” explains Lauren. 

“She couldn’t see shadows; she couldn’t see if you placed your hand in front of her face – she just couldn’t see a thing. She was very timid and withdrawn.”

It was particularly sad for Jean to lose her sight, as she’d been an avid reader. “Jean used to meet her sister in Birmingham city centre every Thursday, and that they’d go to the library together,” says Lauren. 

“But that all stopped when her sister died. Jean sometimes says that she thinks her eyesight went downhill because she read too much.”

After she arrived at Cherry Lodge, Jean was diagnosed with dementia, which made things more complicated: “Jean would insist that she could see,” explains Lauren. 

“When her dementia was at its worst, she would say things like ‘I’m not blind – I don’t know what you’re talking about, I can see everything’. She was in complete denial.”

Carers were concerned, so they asked Visioncall to visit Jean and make a professional diagnosis. 

Person-centred eye care

Vic Khurana, Visioncall’s lead optometrist, diagnosed Jean with bilateral cataracts and inflamed eyelids and referred her to her GP and a specialist eye hospital in Birmingham. 

Within a week, Jean had an appointment for cataract surgery.

“The surgery was amazing,” says Lauren. “I was allowed to be in the operating room with Jean. When it was done, Jean looked at me, straight in my eyes, and asked how I was! She could see me straight away.”

The changes didn’t stop there. “Coming home with her that day, she didn’t hold my hand – she walked into the building on her own. This was only one eye that had been treated at this stage, and she’d never seen the building before, she didn’t know where her room was, but she walked straight in.

“She began using the bathroom on her own and eating her food by herself – we didn’t need to help her with anything. She got her independence back that day, and it was lifechanging – for Jean, of course, but also for the staff.”

See better, live better

Lauren is adamant that it was Cherry Lodge’s partnership with Visioncall that turned Jean’s life around, saying: “I think if Jean had been here at Cherry Lodge sooner, her eyesight and her independence would never have been so badly affected because Visioncall would have been there to help her before it got to that stage. 

Visioncall is brilliant; they understand the needs of a care home, the needs of residents, and the needs of people with demand. It’s such a good service.”

These days, Jean is very much enjoying her new lease of life, with a return to reading her favourite books, and a newfound love of television and socialising with her fellow residents.

“I honestly think that this experience will be something that I will remember for the rest of my life,” Lauren says. 

“I’ve never seen such a turnaround on somebody before, how something so small can make such a difference. It helped Jean so much; it has changed her whole life.”

If you’re concerned about a friend, relative or patient’s vision or eye health, get in touch to make an appointment.

For the latest news and updates from Visioncall, stay posted here on our company blog and follow us on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.

Hidden Impact Eye Test Blog

Did you know that missing an eye test can come with a whole raft of potential risks?

You might not think it, but optical care is a crucial part of maintaining top-to-toe health, providing a window into other potential problems at play. 

A regular sight test and eye health check-up is something we should all try to undergo, no matter our age or vision levels.

Over-65s are particularly at risk of developing eye health conditions. 

It’s estimated that more than 50% of over-65s live with some kind of sight loss. 

However, optometrists and opticians fear that number could be rapidly rising after the global Coronavirus pandemic has limited the ability of many to visit their optician for routine eye exams.

Many high street opticians closed their doors and over-65s were particularly hard-hit, with many shielding. 

More than five million eye tests were missed in 2020 due to the restrictions. The continuation of these into 2021 means that the actual number may be even higher.

Be aware of your vision

For those aged 65 and over, regular check-ups are an essential part of maintaining personal independence and quality of life and acting as a way of managing underlying health concerns – such as diabetes, strokes, and cancers.

Vishal Khurana, our lead optometrist, says: “The main risk in delaying routine eye check-ups is the undiagnosed worsening of some conditions. 

“The most common are the ‘Big 4’: glaucoma, cataracts, diabetes and macular degeneration. And of course, there’s the risk of physical injury, with falls becoming 50% more likely when vision is impaired.”

Alongside the physical health issues, there is also the concern that sight loss may make it more likely for older people to experience anxiety and depression symptoms. 

It’s estimated that even slightly reduced vision can make you three times more likely to experience depression.

Maintain your eye health checks

So, what can you be doing to lower your risk of vision or eye health problems? 

The first step is to book a check-up as soon as you can with your optician, or with Visioncall if you’re in a care home setting, and try to keep these as regular as possible. Your optician will advise on how frequent these need to be.

Vic says: “Early intervention is key to prevent any irreversible progression and sight loss. 

“Some conditions worsen gradually, and the patient doesn’t appreciate the true deterioration until it’s pointed out to them. 

“Some people sadly accept changes in their sight as something that’s ‘normal with age’, when often, something can be done to improve their visual quality of life. 

“The more we see our patients, even in passing, the more we can prevent this from happening.”

And in the meantime, follow our top ten tips for eyesight care to help maintain your eye health and vision between appointments.  

If you have any concerns about your eye health or sight levels, always consult an optometrist.

For the latest news and updates from Visioncall, stay posted here on our company blog and follow us on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.

Eye sight health tips

We can take our eyesight for granted, and when minor issues arise, we know what to do: book an appointment for a sight test. 

But what happens when a sight test isn’t available?

For those aged 65 and over, regular eye health check-ups are an essential part of maintaining personal independence and quality of life and acting as a way of managing underlying health concerns – such as diabetes, strokes, and cancers.

While sight tests may only be available for emergencies and urgent care under current COVID-19 restrictions, that doesn’t mean your vision and eye health should suffer.

As one of the UK’s leading eye care providers in the care home sector, Visioncall wants to ensure that you’re equipped with the information you need. 

Our expert optometrists have shared their top 10 tips to help you understand the little things you can do daily to look after your eyesight for the long term.

Eat A Healthy, Balanced Diet

Eating plenty of fruit and veg is essential for a healthy body. A balanced diet packed with vitamins and minerals can help protect your eyes against conditions such as glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration.

Choose Protective Eyewear 

Wearing glasses with a built-in UV filter can help protect against cataracts developing, as even the winter sun’s rays can be harsh on the eyes.

Stop Smoking

Smoking increases your chances of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, as well as many other health issues, so it’s best to quit the habit altogether.

Maintain A Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight can help protect against diabetes, which can lead to sight loss. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and trying to stay active can help you achieve this.

Let The Light In

Did you know that our eyes need three times as much light aged 60 as they did at 20? Keep your home bright and light by keeping the curtains open during the day and ensuring appropriate lighting. Daylight bulbs are an excellent investment to keep the house as bright as possible.

Stay Active

Regular exercise, good circulation and oxygen intake are essential for eye health, so try and stay active as much as possible and get outdoors as much as you can. Keeping windows open can also help you access plenty of fresh air during the day.

Get A Good Night’s Sleep

Sleeping is when your eyes are lubricated and cleared out, so a restful night’s sleep is essential. Aim for eight hours a night, and ensure your room is dark enough to aid a night of good, deep sleep.

Check Your Eyesight Regularly

Checking your eyesight individually – or ‘monocularly’ – is an excellent way of comparing the vision in both eyes. Cover each eye in turn with the palm of your hand and pay attention to the level of detail you can see in each eye. Many people don’t notice that sight in one eye has deteriorated significantly, as your ‘good eye’ compensates for it.

Take Screen Breaks

Try and keep your screens at eye level and around 40cm from your face, and every five minutes, look away from your screen and blink a few times. Follow the 20x20x20 rule, too; every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds away from your screen and focus on something 20 feet away.

Check Your Prescription Regularly

If you wear glasses or lenses, check that you’ve got the correct prescription to prevent eye strain.

We hope these tips will help you maintain excellent eye health, but if you have any concerns about your eye health or sight levels, always consult an optometrist.

We hope these tips will help you maintain great eye health, but if you do have any concerns about your eye health or sight levels, always consult an optometrist.

For the latest news and updates from Visioncall, stay posted here on our company blog and follow us on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.

Thanking Carers

At Visioncall we want to say thank you to the thousands of care staff who are working tirelessly around the clock to provide essential care for the most vulnerable in our society. 

We want to show our appreciation for everyone who works so hard to keep our loved ones safe during these uncertain times.

These past few weeks have been incredibly transformative to everyone’s lives, and with considerable impact to the care industry.

As one of the UK’s leading providers of domiciliary eye care, working closely with care home partners, we understand how testing this period has been. 

Our teams across the UK are still working with care providers to assist with essential eye care services. 

Supporting you with eye care matters

Our clinical teams to remain on hand to support our care home partners with advice and guidance on eye care matters at home

While we have stopped routine visits, We understand that social distancing measures must be respected during this time to protect our patients, their carers and our staff. 

The effort we are seeing from all NHS and care staff working with those who need the most support is truly inspiring during this challenging time.

It serves as a reminder of one of our core company values – we believe the right people can make a huge difference.

So from everyone here at Visioncall, thank you. 

Thank you for making a real difference in people’s lives when it’s needed most. 

We look forward to seeing our patients safely. 

Until then, support our NHS and carers – stay home, save lives.

Visioncall's Empathetic Optometrist

Visioncall’s empathetic optometrists help those most in need of care to see better and live better.

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.

We do this because sight loss and eye conditions don’t discriminate and neither do we.

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.

For the latest news and updates from Visioncall, stay posted here on our company blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.