One in seven children with learning disabilities have unknown sight problem, report reveals

Post date: 
Tuesday, 13 June 2017
Child with vision impairment wearing glasses

SeeAbility, a charity aiming to establish an eye care system for children with learning disabilities, has launched their third annual report from the Children in Focus project.

The charity has been sight testing children in a number of special schools since 2013 and their third annual report looks back at three years of sight testing work.
 
This period covers the results of sight tests with over 700 pupils and demonstrates not just the high level of sight problems amongst children in special schools but also the struggle that many children with complex needs have accessing routine sight tests in the community.
 

Key findings

Over the last three years they have found:
  • Nearly half of children tested have a problem with their vision
  • Four in ten children seen for the first time had no history of eye care. There was little change to this figure even amongst children of secondary school age.
  • Few children (7.1 per cent) have accessed a community optician for a routine sight test – in fact, it was much more common for children to be seen in busy hospital eye clinics for sight tests instead.

Read the full report

Vision problems

Astonishingly, nearly 100 pupils (14 per cent of children tested) had a vision problem previously unknown to their school or parents.
 
Some of these children’s vision was so poor they could be registered as blind. However, the vast majority of children had vision problems easily treatable – most often with glasses.
 

National programme

The report is further proof that a national programme of sight testing in special schools could save the NHS and care services money in the long run.
 
James Boylan, Headteacher at Heritage House School, said: “For many of our pupils, they have had the first assessment of their vision in their lives with some prescribed spectacles for the first time. It is a pleasure to work with SeeAbility and to see the daily lives of many of our pupils and their families transformed.”
 

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