The impact of poor vision on mental health

Don’t ignore the mental health impact of eye issues during lockdown, warns domiciliary optometrist. 

Families concerned about the mental health of elderly relatives in lockdown are being encouraged to check that worsening vision is not hampering their ability to cope while living alone.

The call comes from optometrist Jason Scaife, who is anxious that elderly people confined to their home and reluctant to get out for appointments are struggling with deteriorating eyesight – hampering their ability to enjoy the sorts of things that help their mental health such as watching TV, reading or doing puzzles.

Mr Scaife, director of home visits in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan for Specsavers, helps those with eyecare needs who cannot leave their homes, and was recently contacted by the family of Beryl Close, 75, who lives in Tonypandy.

He says: ‘Beryl struggles with her mobility and when her eyesight started to worsen during lockdown, it began to have a big impact on her life. Her son, Mike, got in touch with us as he was concerned about his mum’s vision. She couldn’t read or see the TV and Mike was worried that it was affecting her mental health.’

During his visit to see Mrs Close, Jason found that she had bad cataracts in both eyes and needed surgery. Cataract removal surgery is a quick procedure, which takes between 15 to 45 minutes, and leaves patients with much brighter and clearer vision.

Having had her surgery at Nuffield Health Hospital in Cardiff Bay to remove the cataracts, Mrs Close has now made a full recovery.

Mr Scaife adds: ‘Her whole demeanour was different after the operation. It became evidently clear that it was her sight problems that were causing her anxiety. She was back to her usual self after the procedure, which was heart-warming to see.

‘Beryl’s story is yet another example of why primary health services cannot stall because of COVID-19. We completely understand why people may be anxious to seek treatment and medical advice while COVID-19 remains prevalent in our communities, which is why our staff – both those working remotely as well as colleagues in Specsavers stores – have worked hard to ensure we are COVID-secure at all times.’

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