Dementia and optometry: a growing need

This paper provides practical advice for optometrists examining patients with dementia.

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The demographics of the UK population have changed significantly in the last four to five decades, with the most notable changes being increased life expectancy resulting in an ageing population. As a result of this progressively ageing population, there is an increasing prevalence of dementia. The prevalence of dementia increases dramatically with
advancing age; for example, it rises from 1.7% of people aged between 65 and 69 years to affect more than 40% of people over the age of 95 years (Prince et al. 2014). It has been estimated that the total number of people in the UK with some form of dementia ranges from 670 000 (Matthews et al. 2013) to 835 000 (Prince et al. 2014). One million people in the UK are predicted to have dementia by 2025, a figure that is likely to rise to over 2 million by 2051 (Alzheimer’s Society 2017). Although the prevalence of dementia is higher in the elderly population, dementia is not exclusively a disease of older people, and there are approximately 42 000 people in the UK younger than 65 years who have this condition (Alzheimer’s Society 2017).

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