Dementia and sight loss: looking after your eyes

Older woman getting her eyes testedIf you have dementia and sight loss, we can help make life easier.

More than 250,000 people are living with dementia and sight loss in the UK, so you are not alone.
 
We teamed up with Alzheimer Scotland to produce some top tips aimed at reassuring anyone with dementia, and their family or carers, that a trip to an optometrist is a worthwhile and positive experience:
 

Download top tips (PDF, 73 KB)

 

At RNIB, we want to improve eye health across the country. We have lots of great resources for people with dementia and sight loss, families and carers as well as professionals. Please share this page with anyone who you think might find it useful (www.rnib.org.uk/aboutdementia).

Causes of sight loss among people with dementia

Most people with dementia and sight loss in the UK are over 65. Sight loss among people with dementia can be caused by:
  • an eye condition (such as cataract)
  • another health condition (such as stroke)
  • normal ageing of the eye, and
  • the dementia itself.

Look after your sight

We recommend that people have regular eye tests to check their vision and eye health. Eye tests are especially important for people with dementia because the symptoms of dementia might mask the symptoms of sight loss.
 
In England, Northern Ireland and Wales, sight tests are free every two years if you are over the age of 60 and annually if you are over the age of 70. In Scotland, sight tests are free for all ages and over 60s are seen annually.
 
Already have an appointment? Use our handy checklist to make sure you have everything covered when visiting an optometrist:
 

Download checklist (PDF, 112 KB)

 

Living with dementia and sight loss

In partnership with Alzheimer Scotland, we produced a Dementia and sight loss leaflet that has useful information for anyone with dementia or those who support them. As well as learning more about dementia and sight loss, you'll find a handy checklist to make sure you have everything covered when visiting an optometrist and other information that will help you make the most of your sight.
We have lots of specialist gadgets and services to support your everyday activities. Our Online shop has products designed to make your life easier, such as easy-to-see clocks, big button remotes and talking labels to stick on things. Or why not check out our popular talking newspapers or audio books services if you enjoy reading.
 

Other useful information

VISION 2020 UK’s Dementia and Sight Loss Interest Committee was set up to develop and promote better understanding of the issues facing people affected by dementia and sight loss. Below is a number of factsheets they have produced that are useful for people with dementia, their families, carers and professionals.

Advice for family, friends and carers

There are a number of things that can be useful for you or your family, friends and carers to know. Below is a document by the Dementia and Sight Loss Interest Committee that answers some frequently asked questions about the link between dementia and sight loss, practical support and adaptations, accessible activities, and hallucinations.

Advice for professionals

If you are a professional who supports someone with dementia and sight loss, visit our webpage for professionals. It has lots of useful information including tips to help you communicate better, ways to help in the home, and guidelines for using technology to support someone with dementia and sight loss.
 
RNIB's work on dementia and sight loss has been supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
 

We're here to help

Our Helpline is your direct line to the support, advice, and products you need to face the future with confidence. If you or someone you know has a sight problem, our specialist advice workers can help.

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