The College of Optometrists reports on dementia and vision research event

Published: 24 May 2016

The College of Optometrists has developed a report outlining the outcomes of the Visual Impairment and Dementia (VIDem) Summit. The Summit was co-hosted by the College of Optometrists, Thomas Pocklington Trust and the Alzheimer’s Society, and was supported by the James Lind Alliance (JLA), to identify priorities for research into concurrent dementia and visual impairment.

The event brought together expert opinions from people living with concurrent dementia and visual impairment, their carers and clinicians and organisations providing services to people in this group. Participants reviewed the list of research priorities most relevant to concurrent visual impairment and dementia from the two JLA Priority Setting Partnerships for Dementia and for Sight Loss and Vision. Collaborative group work helped to identify key priorities for research from within the initial list.

These priorities were

  • appropriate methods of visual assessment
  • how to maintain independence
  • the timing of cataract intervention
  • how to effectively change practice with research
  • routes to early dementia diagnosis.

The resulting VIDem report on the College of Optometrists’ website, includes an in-depth summary of the Summit debate, and abstracts from research presented on the day.

Michael Bowen, Director of Research for the College of Optometrists said “The VIDem Report is the first time that the research priorities from two JLA Priority Setting Partnerships (PSPs) have been reviewed in order to identify shared priorities for people living with conditions, diseases or disorders from both of those PSP areas. The VIDem Summit Report explains how this was done for two critical PSPs - Sight Loss and Vision, and Dementia. The risks of developing either dementia or visual impairment increase with age so a significant proportion of people living with dementia will also be living with some degree of visual impairment. This report offers important insights into the priorities for research that people living with concurrent visual impairment and dementia and the clinicians caring for them most want to see funded.”

The VIDem summit arose from the Prevalence of Visual Impairment in Dementia (PrOVIDe) project, a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded project. This was led by the College of Optometrists, (working with City University London, UCL, Newcastle University, University of Birmingham, The Thomas Pocklington Trust and the Alzheimer’s Society).  It was set up to measure the prevalence of a range of visual problems in people with dementia and to identify and describe the reasons for any under detection or inappropriate management of visual impairment in people with dementia. The report will be published in full this summer.

As part of the College of Optometrists work around vision and dementia they have developed some educational videos with UCL exploring methods of testing dementia. These will be available to their members later this summer.

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