The role our sight and hearing plays in feelings of loneliness

16th June 2022

AS Loneliness Awareness Week begins, Specsavers is highlighting the impact our sight and hearing plays in feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Loneliness Awareness Week (June 13 – June 20) is hosted by Marmalade Trust, the UK’s leading loneliness charity. It’s an annual campaign to raise awareness of loneliness and reduce the stigma around it.

Research carried out by Specsavers and its Home Visits service, reveals that more than half of those (51%) who have poor vision also struggle with feelings of loneliness.[1]

And it isn’t just poor vision that leads to feeling of isolation, our ability to hear does too. Further research by Specsavers has shown that more than two-thirds of people have actively avoided social situations because they struggle to hear. [2]

In fact, trouble with hearing can become so much of a problem that 10% of people Specsavers asked said they would skip a meal at a restaurant with friends, 7% would avoid going to their friend’s house for dinner and 6% would miss a play at their child’s school.  One in 10 people also said they skip all social events in order to avoid any awkwardness.[3]

To help combat the damaging effects of poor sight and hearing on loneliness, Specsavers’ offers a Home Visits service, which sees opticians travelling across the country to provide full and thorough eye tests for patients who are unable to visit their opticians unaccompanied.

Specsavers is also expanding its Home Visits service to provide remote hearing tests for patients in key locations across the UK. This was recently launched in Edinburgh and is being followed by a major roll-out across the nation. It is in addition to the audiology services available in stores throughout the UK.

This will have a huge impact on the problem of isolation in people with hearing loss, as research has shown that while hearing loss increases the chances of loneliness, it is only the case in people who don’t wear hearing aids.[4]

Not only do home visits play a crucial role in ensuring those most likely to suffer from isolation don’t suffer more due to poor eyesight or hearing, they offer much needed social contact for people across the country who are unable to leave their home unaccompanied.

Graham Hanna, Director of Specsavers Home Visits Belfast, says: ‘Needless to say over the past couple of years, the demand for Specsavers home visits has increased, as many in our communities sought to stay safe while also keeping on top of their healthcare.

‘The majority of patients we visit at home are elderly, and within our rural communities, and therefore their isolation can easily bring about loneliness.

‘At Specsavers we are a part of our local communities who know each other well, and will always go the extra mile for our patients to ensure they have access to their everyday needs, so we hope those chats during eye tests help to alleviate that loneliness in some way.’

For more information about Specsavers audiology and Home Visits services visit www.specsavers.co.uk

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

2 https://www.specsavers.co.uk/hearing/hearing-loss/understanding/mental-health-hearing-loss

3 https://www.specsavers.co.uk/hearing/hearing-loss/understanding/mental-health-hearing-loss

4 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21929374/


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