Delivering an equal right to sight
People with learning disabilities are ten times more likely to experience serious sight problems than the general population, a disparity that is even more marked at a young age, so it is vital that their eye care needs are recognised and accommodated.
This report looks at new information, research, good practice, and most importantly gives a voice to people with learning disabilities on what is important to them when they go for a sight test and receive eye care.
Everyone deserves an equal right to sight. SeeAbility and many others have undertaken much excellent work in this respect. I would urge readers to make use of SeeAbility’s free resources, expertise and support.
However, we are over twenty years on from the Disability Discrimination Act and this report shows that we are not at the stage where everyone, regardless of disability, is accessing their right to good eye care. This is robbing people of independence and quality of life.
The report makes a number of recommendations. Sight tests are low cost, preventative tools that every health economy should embrace. Hospitals should be the last resort for people with learning disabilities who just need routine eye care, and community alternatives need to be nationally available. For example, many children attending special schools could benefit hugely from a programme that brings sight tests and glasses into their school. Working age adults with learning disabilities could benefit from free NHS sight tests just as other high risk groups do.
It has been said if we can get eye care right for people with learning disabilities, we can get it right for everyone. I hope that this report gives inspiration and information in equal measure, and provides the impetus for much needed change in the eye care system, putting us all on the road to delivering an equal right to sight.