Ways to improve health of the eyes, ears and mouth
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In the wake of the pandemic, there have been several ramifications with non-Covid health issues topping the list of the most important and pressing.
With less fear surrounding the impact of Covid infections, public confidence has grown with people now happy to visit a health centre, GP practice or hospital, which has resulted in greater demand for services and longer waiting lists.
This too can have its own set of consequences, as the prospect of long waiting times may put many people off making an appointment or check-up, yet if left untreated, any health condition could deteriorate further.
Several conditions connected with the head, such as the eyes, ears and mouth, can sometimes indicate that a more serious issue needs addressing. For example, an optometrist can spot changes in tissues, nerves and blood vessels in your eyes that may highlight signs of diabetes or high blood pressure, while an audiologist can detect hearing problems that could affect the risk of dementia. Dentists can identify early signs of gum disease, that if left untreated can lead to heart and lung problems.
A simple check-up from the neck up can lead to an early identification of a more serious problem, and a specialist can quickly treat you or signpost you towards preventive measures or early treatment.
A report from the NHS Confederation (2021), showed there were 5.9 million fewer new referral-to-treatment pathways made in the NHS in 2020 compared with 2019. This was a fall of 30 percent and ophthalmology, the treatment of disorders and diseases of the eye, was one of the areas that suffered the most disruption.
The fear of catching Covid lead many patients to avoid consultations with optometrists and hospital ophthalmologists over the past 17 months. This has raised serious concerns at The College of Optometrists about long-term damage to eye health and sight loss, as monitoring of and referrals for sight-saving procedures are being missed.
The NHS recommends that people should get their eyes tested every two years, or more often if advised by an ophthalmic practitioner or optometrist.
To access good eye health care on a local level, McShaw Optometrists in Sidmouth and the Honiton Eye Clinic may be worth a try.
Soo and Frederick McShaw, joint owners of McShaw Optometrists in Sidmouth, established their specialist eyecare business in 1999 that now sits in the town's High Street. Frederick's passion for eyecare and Soo's nursing background inspired them to change the way people experienced their eyecare.
McShaw's has invested in an OCT scanner, a non-invasive device that captures the individual layers beneath the surface of the eye, which is likened to revealing the sponge and fillings beneath an iced cake. The results capture any abnormalities that lead to prompt diagnosis.
During the pandemic, McShaw's remained open thanks to its good volume of PPE supplies and Frederick’s willingness to continue emergency care.
Just under 10 miles away from McShaw's, is the Honiton Eye Clinic, another locally owned independent practice that recently opened at 12 Lace Walk in Honiton.
At the clinic, patients receive a high standard of eye care from members of its small friendly team. The practice uses the latest state-of-the-art technology, including an OCT scanner that looks beyond the surface of the eye, and enables all layers of the retina to be examined. The quick ability to identify and monitor abnormality is essential for early detection and diagnosis of some of the major causes of visual impairment and blindness. Treatments are then made at the earliest possible moment.
The practice also stocks a wide range of niche and colourful spectacle brands alongside the more traditional styles.
A 2020 study by Clear Living, acknowledged by the British Society of Audiology, looked into the impact of hearing loss on mental wellbeing and lifestyle. The study showed that 89 percent of participants cited social and personal problems as the key impact of hearing loss and a further 75 percent of those with hearing loss had concerns with buying a hearing aid. As the social impact of hearing problems can be profound, seeing a hearing specialist and undergoing the appropriate treatment could slow down or halt any further hearing loss.
A local company that 'is all ears' when it comes to the serious subject of hearing, is the Honiton Hearing Centre, run by Colin Eaton, a registered hearing aid audiologist and hearing aid dispenser, and his wife Samantha.
The practice was opened in New Street in Honiton 15 years ago and has gained several merits in this time including the prestigious Association of Independent Hearing Healthcare Practitioners 'Centre of Excellence'.
This recognition is a feather in the cap of the Honiton clinic which remains a traditional independent family firm to this day.
A complete hearing care package is available at the clinic along with earwax removal, tinnitus advice and management, and invaluable advice on noise protection issues.
With good eyesight and hearing ability, there's plenty to smile about. That is, unless, you're suffering from dental problems. Even now, many dental practices are catching up from when they were closed or partially open during the lockdowns. The backlogs are also caused by the increased amount of disinfection of surgeries required after each treatment. The British Dental Association suggests that priority is made to patients needing urgent care, those at higher risk of oral disease and those with outstanding treatment needs.
For those who require dentures, the Changing Faces denture clinics in Exeter and Barnstaple can help restore a smile perfectly. The dental practice is operated by expert clinical dental technician, Andrew Taylor, who has over 25 years of experience in creating true-to-life dentures. Andrew uses Denture Genics techniques that give the illusion of natural teeth, that factor in the gender, age and personality of the patient.
The natural appearance of the dentures he creates helps to restore a smile and volumise a face. That's enough to make anyone feel better!