Caring for older eyes

Older adults are at greater risk of developing eye conditions that threaten sight, yet only half of older adults in Australia attend for regular sight tests. Poor vision in older adults is a significant risk factor for falls, and through impact on ability to engage in daily activities and socialising, is associated with increased risk of depression and cognitive decline. Maximising eyesight for older adults with other co-morbidities such as diabetes, dementia or cardiovascular disease is therefore an important step in maintaining quality of life and independence, thus the optometrist can make an important contribution to integrated care for these conditions that is yet to be fully recognised. This program of research focuses on the role of routine eye examinations for older adults living with long term conditions.

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Dementia- friendly eyecare training course

Dr Marianne Coleman was awarded a $75,000 grant by the Dementia Australia Research Foundation for her project titled “Breaking down barriers to accessing dementia-friendly eyecare”. The research will help improve eyecare experiences for people with dementia and help caregivers organise a dementia- friendly eye test more easily. It will also be aid optometrists to deliver dementia-friendly eyecare and work confidently with patients with dementia.

In 2022 a Victorian Optometrists Training and Education (VOTE) grant was secured to support development of specialist course content for the dementia-friendly eyecare training course for optometrists. This funding will ensure the training course equips optometrists to manage responsive behaviours exhibited by people living with dementia that may arise during a routine eye examination, such as anxiety or agitation. Dr Coleman is a Co-Investigator on a major Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) project led by the University of Queensland to explore vision and hearing interventions for people living with dementia receiving home care.