Glasgow & West Scotland

Optician in Ayrshire tackles face-blindness

An optician in Scotland has developed what is claimed to be the first-ever effective treatment for face-blindness.

Ian Jordan, who is based in Ayr, has been invited to address a major conference in London.

Face-blindness, known technically as prosopagnosia, is an inability to recognize faces or facial expressions.

About one person in 40 is affected by the condition, which is particularly common among people on the autistic spectrum.

It can also occur after brain trauma, the result of an accident or stroke.

Mr Jordan discovered the method he uses to treat face-blindness by accident, while treating someone for another sensory processing condition.

Facial recognition

Speaking about the treatment, he said: "This is a real breakthrough and will be life-changing for those with prosopagnosia.

"Until now, there hasn't been any way to treat it - just techniques and strategies to deal with the consequences.

"Some people are able to piece together a person's identity by recognising the way they walk or the sound of their voice, but the prospect of meeting and having to identify new people, either socially, at work or at school, can be very distressing."

Patient Alan Mandelson said: "It gave me more confidence to go out and actually try to socialise.

"Before I started going for (this treatment) I was kind of a social recluse, staying around the house. I didn't really want to try to make friends.

"Every time I tried, next time I saw them I even remember who they were."

Looking at the world with certain colours filtered out and other colours enhanced makes it possible for the brain to receive all the information it needs to distinguish one face from another.

Coloured lenses

Patients are prescribed tailor-made lenses in the colour most suited to their condition.

Isabelle Thorald, who has received the treatment, said: "When I put the glasses on, everything looks a hundred times better.

"I know people joke about the world looking better through rose-tinted spectacles, but it's actually kind of true.

"I can see a whole face at once when I put my glasses on."

Ian Jordan has been invited to outline his treatment at the Treating Autism 7th Biomedical Conference and Exhibition in London.

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