Sight loss - dementia link ignored, MP warns

15 April 2016

More vision checks could have a life-changing impact for dementia sufferers, an MP has claimed.

In a Commons debate, Jim Shannon MP said that sight loss is a challenge that is ‘often overlooked’ by carers and NHS staff that support people with dementia. He called on public health minister Jane Ellison MP to confirm the Government’s eye care strategy for people with dementia.

In a speech to the House of Commons, Shannon noted that it is often assumed that someone with dementia “will not gain any benefit from sight testing and vision correction” because they no longer work, drive or read. But being able to see well can help patients remain active, he continued, and can “play an important role in supporting the well-being of a person living with dementia.”

“Good vision can greatly increase a person with dementia’s sense of independence, allowing them to continue to participate in daily tasks and activities and maintaining a good quality of life” he said, speaking a week after visiting a community optical practice with the Optical Confederation and Optometry Northern Ireland.

He is keen to promote the role eye health providers can play. “There is a need to raise awareness amongst people with dementia and their carers of the disruptions to vision and eye health that may be concurrent with or arise from dementia. This means emphasising the importance of regular sight tests.”