Dr Marianne Coleman
Place of work / study:
University of Surrey
Area of research:
How is your work currently funded:
Fight for Sight / Royal Society of Medicine Primer Fellowship Award
Tell us a little about yourself:
I am an orthoptist. This literally means “straight eyes” – I specialise in diagnosing and treating problems with eye movement and using the eyes together as a pair (binocular vision). Things can go wrong with your eyes at any age, so we help people from babyhood right up to age 100 and beyond! If you’ve ever had to go to the hospital because of double vision, you would have seen someone like me. We’re that allied health profession nobody’s heard of until they need us!
Tell us a fun fact about yourself:
My one claim to fame is starring in a school production of Les Miserables alongside now popular singer Sam Smith – he was a sweet little kid and a super Gavroche. I was the obnoxious Mme Thernardier and had a whale of a time, my wig and costume were hilariously hideous!
Why did you choose to work in dementia?
Older people are more likely to have difficulty with their eyesight, including their ability to use their eyes together as a pair. This affects depth perception, increasing risk of falling. I saw and treated many older people for these kinds of problems during my previous NHS work, yet hardly any of them had dementia. You can’t access an orthoptist without a referral from somewhere. So where were all these people with dementia? What is happening to their eyesight and depth perception after they get diagnosed, as dementia progresses? This inspired my research, which is testing the eyesight, depth perception and pupil responses of 25 people with dementia over the course of a year, using dementia-friendly tests. After it’s completed, I hope I can come back and answer some of these questions!