Dementia and sight loss

Supporting you to support people living with dementia and sight loss.

With a quarter of a million people living with dementia and sight loss in the UK, RNIB believes it is extremely important to promote good eye health and the benefits of regular sight tests.

The PrOVIDe study 2016 revealed that:

  • The prevalence of sight loss in people with dementia is higher than the overall population.
     
  • Almost half (50 per cent) of those with sight loss were no longer classified as visually impaired when wearing the correctly prescribed glasses.

Our leaflet on dementia and sight loss contains useful information for anyone living with dementia, or supporting someone with dementia.

As well as learning more about sight loss and dementia, you’ll find a handy checklist on identifying sight loss and everyday living solutions to support independence and help people to make the most of their sight. The Scotland leaflet was updated in September 2020.

Download our dementia leaflet

Download our dementia leaflet (Scotland)

 

We recommend that people have regular sight tests to check their vision and eye health. Sight tests are especially important for people with dementia because the symptoms of dementia might mask the symptoms of sight loss. Our ten tips promoting eye health for people with dementia can help you to promote access to eye care services with the people you're supporting. 

To support people to get the most out an appointment with the optometrist and ensure that they obtain relevant information on eye health and spectacle use, please take a look at this list of useful questions to ask at a sight test:
 

Resources to support people living with dementia and sight loss

Tip cards

We've produced a range of handy tip cards to help you to better support people living with dementia and sight loss. These cards provide helpful pointers for communicating with people with sight loss and dementia, including creating the optimum environment for communication and using all the senses to create multifaceted cues. There are also tips on promoting eye health and advice on how to support people with dementia and sight loss at home through simple changes to furnishings and lighting.

Technology, dementia and sight loss

Our ten tips on how technology can help people with dementia and sight loss guide provides key points to consider and questions to ask in order to determine the best technology solutions for the people you support. Our good practice guidelines for using technology to support people with sight loss and dementia help to maximise the potential of everyday technologies to make big differences to people's everyday lives.

Our RNIB Chats for Apps podcast series explores a range of simple apps that can be used to support people with sight loss and complex needs, such as dementia. This series of six podcasts was supported by RNIB's Technology for Life team which helps with both simple and complex technology queries and issues offering information, advice and guidance over the phone, over email or in person through setting up a volunteer request. To speak to a technology for life coordinator contact the RNIB Helpline.

Podcast series

RNIB's older people and complex needs team has recorded a series of podcasts giving information and advice on a variety of topics for older people with sight loss and people who support adults with complex needs, including dementia. Podcasts seven and eight in the series focus specifically on the impact of sight loss in people living with dementia and enhancing communication in people living with sight loss and dementia. These were produced with input from Dr Barbara Sharp, Policy and Practice Consultant with Alzheimer Scotland. 

Falls, dementia and sight loss

People living with dementia and experiencing sight loss are at a significantly increased risk of falling and RNIB Scotland has produced a practice note that supports staff to create an individualised action plan following a falls multi-factorial risk assessment. The resource outlines approaches to take to improve care and outcomes.

Social care dementia gateway

If you work with people with dementia in nursing, residential or domiciliary settings, you may find the Social Care Institute for Excellence’s Dementia Gateway useful (it includes a section on dementia and sight loss). There are lots of practical tips, tools and activities that can help with your daily work. Each section has been written by a national dementia expert, so you can be sure the information and guidance are up to date and reflects best practice in dementia care.

Advice for people with dementia and sight loss

If you have dementia and sight loss, we have lots of useful information about dementia and sight loss online, looking after your sight, living with an eye condition, and helpful products and services.