Lockdown research: poor vision and loneliness linked

People with poor vision are feeling lonelier during lockdown, according to new research published in support of Loneliness Awareness Week [1].

The study shows that more than half of those (51%) who say they have poor vision have been feeling lonely some or all of the time, compared with 38% of people who say their vision is good.

More than two fifths (43%) of people who are shielding say they have felt lonely at least some of the time. This is particularly prominent in the over 65s where more than half (57%) have been shielding, making them more susceptible to loneliness – especially as almost a quarter (23%) have been spending lockdown on their own.

The domiciliary team at Specsavers have been making ‘care calls’ to thousands of vulnerable customers during lockdown to check that they are ok.

Specsavers Clinical Services Director Giles Edmonds says: ‘We understand that sight and hearing play an important part in helping us to stay connected to loved ones and the world around us. But we also know that, with age, comes vision or hearing impairment challenges and that means you may have a higher propensity to feeling isolated. This was reflected in our survey: those with poor vision (51%) and poor hearing (42%) said that they have been lonely some, or all, of the time since lockdown began.

‘We have a responsibility to our more vulnerable customers to do what we can to make contact, in a safe way, particularly if they are self-isolating. That’s why we decided to call this group of customers to simply check in. Were they ok and could we help?

‘Many stores have shared some lovely stories of supporting their vulnerable customers. Colleagues have charged hearing aid devices on doorsteps or cycled miles to hand-deliver new glasses. We have also sent out thousands of Care Call postcards to those unable to leave their homes, which included contact details of key charity support groups Royal Voluntary Service, Age UK and The Silver Line.’

Sam Ward, Royal Voluntary Service Director of Services and Deputy CEO, says: ‘Even as lockdown eases, social isolation is likely to continue for many, especially for older or vulnerable people who may have been shielding or feel apprehensive about leaving their homes.

‘Having hearing difficulties or vision loss can make older and vulnerable people feel particularly isolated; phone and video calls can pose additional challenges as they make it difficult to hear properly or to lip-read. While it’s worrying to see so many people experiencing social isolation, in highlighting the issue we can work together to tackle it.

‘Now more than ever, it is so important to keep in touch with family and friends, and our partners at Specsavers have a wealth of advice on how best to connect with those living with sight or hearing loss.’

[1] Specsavers Customer Panel Survey of 2,330 people in England, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales, carried out between 8-10 June 2020

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