Government urged to make specialist eye tests available in special schools
Wednesday, 14 October 2015
Sight loss charity SeeAbility are calling on the government to provide crucial eye care to children in special schools, as new research suggests nearly four in ten pupils have never had an eye test.
With 100,000 children in special schools in England, this means 37,000 children have no eye care history.
Children with learning disabilities are 28 times more likely to have serious sight problems than other children, according to SeeAbility’s new report, “An Equal Right to Sight”. They argue that the lack of any clear national strategy to meet the eye care needs of children with disabilities is unacceptable and are demanding change.
“We are calling on the government to make sight tests available in every special school in England. Children with profound disabilities may not be able to tell someone they have a sight problem, or get to a high street optician. Let’s bring much needed eye care to them instead,” says SeeAbility Chief Executive, David Scott-Ralphs.
Julie Jennings, Manager: Children, Young People and Families at RNIB said: “At RNIB we are pleased to support the Seeability campaign. Over half of children and young people with vision impairment have additional disabilities and/or chronic health problems.
“All children with special needs should have a full vision assessment by an ophthalmic team on school entry. Children attending special school also need specialist assessment of their functioning vision, and regular orthoptic and optometric assessment throughout their school life with a clear plan for transition to adult services.”
As part of a new Children in Focus campaign, the report draws on evidence from the charity’s research project with Cardiff University’s School of Optometry and Vision Science.
SeeAbility has been delivering specialist sight tests to pupils in a cluster of London special schools since October 2013. This pilot scheme has since been extended to seven schools, and many children have already benefited from the programme.