Supporting People Living with Sight Loss
Sight loss will affect 1 in 30 of us - mostly as we age. The opportunity to stay at home in familiar surroundings supported by a dedicated home care team such as our team in Streatham and Clapham can be enormously beneficial.There are over 2 million people in the UK living with visual problems that make day-to-day life more challenging and the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) estimate that this figure will rise to 2,350,000 by 2020. Statistics show that 1 in 30 of us will experience some degree of sight loss but it is particularly prevalent in older people as they are more likely to live with health problems that can cause eye conditions - 10% of people over 65 and 1 in 5 people over the age of 75 have some form of visual impairment. As leading homecare providers here in Clapham and Streatham, South West London, we value our role in raising awareness of the effects that eye conditions can have upon someone’s life and providing the right support to people living with sight loss.
Common Eye Conditions
While many different eye disorders can cause visual impairment, there are a few conditions that are the leading causes of sight loss.
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – this painless condition affects the middle of the retina and makes it difficult to see details in the centre of your vision when you’re looking directly at something, like the television or someone’s face. The blurring and distortion AMD causes can mean people with this condition find it hard to read, drive and recognise others, for example.
- Glaucoma – if sufficient pressure builds up in the fluid of the eye it can damage the optic nerve, resulting in permanent sight loss. It affects your peripheral vision (the edges of what you can see). Many people don’t notice symptoms initially and glaucoma can go unnoticed for years if you don’t have regular eye tests, although some people might experience pain in the form of eye tenderness and headaches.
- Cataracts – vision becomes blurred as changes in the lens of the eye make your sight cloudy, causing colours to look less vibrant and leading to light sensitivity - for example, lamps and car headlights may cause more glare.
- Diabetic retinopathy – a complication of diabetes, this condition occurs when the very small blood vessels in the back of the eye become blocked or damaged which reduces blood flow to the retina. New blood vessels that grow to compensate for this are weak and prone to leaking which can further damage vision.
Top Tips for Supporting People with Visual Problems
Obviously, everyone will have their own unique experience of living with sight loss but there are some general ways in which we can all help reduce the challenges people face. Here are a few top tips:
- Talk to the person to find out the exact difficulties they are having and what strategies they already find useful to cope with their sight problems.
- Promote good eye health by ensuring they eat well, take medications, renew prescriptions for glasses and attend regular eye tests.
- Consider whether there may be visual aids that might help them e.g. large signs, magnifying tools, digital voice recorders, speaking clocks or other assistive technology.
- Communicate effectively - for example, verbally letting them know where you are in the room if they can’t see you, using large print documents or writing clearly and placing yourself in the field of vision that you know they have.
- Ensure the space they live in is clutter free and objects are not moved out of place to help them navigate the environment effectively and safely. Clear signage can also help people to find items that they may need to use.
- Provide adequate lighting that gives the person the optimum chance of seeing their environment given the particular condition they have.
- Recognise that some eye conditions can deteriorate over time and coping strategies may need to be revised regularly.
- Listen and provide a sympathetic ear for people who find it hard to live with sight loss - emotional support is just as important as the practical help you can give.
How Can Bluebird Care Clapham and Streatham Help You Cope with Sight Loss?
It goes without saying that being able to stay in the familiar surroundings of your own home when you have health issues is hugely important, but it’s particularly significant when you’re having problems navigating your environment due to sight loss. High quality, individually tailored homecare from our dedicated team of care assistants could make all the difference to the way you live your life. We’re here for you, whether you just need a little bit of daily assistance, right through to 24hour live-in care.
To find out more about how we could help you live well at home, just get in touch with our team using our online form, or phone us on 020 8677 6665.