Sight campaigners demand urgent overhaul of services for people with learning disabilities

12 July 2016

Eye health experts have called for a national scheme of longer, tailored sight tests for people with learning disabilities who are more likely to suffer problems or need glasses.

Campaigners used a parliamentary reception last week to launch a national petition demanding a better deal for the one million adults with learning disabilities.

Launching the petition calling on the NHS to act, David Scott-Ralphs, Chief Executive of SeeAbility, said: “One-in-ten adults with learning disabilities will be blind or partially sighted and around half ­– six out of ten – won’t have had a sight test in the recommended period.

At the event, hosted by Lord Holmes of Richmond MBE and sponsored by SeeAbility and the Optical Confederation, MPs and peers heard personal testimonies from people with learning disabilities explaining the life-changing effects regular, tailored sight tests can have.

Lending his support to the campaign, the Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson MP, recognised that uncorrected visual problems were an often overlooked barrier to people with learning disabilities meaning they could miss out on meaningful employment.

Following the reception David Scott-Ralphs said: “It was a fantastic event and Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP, the Minister for Community and Social Care, spoke again about his experience visiting Perseid School – a special school where SeeAbility runs a sight testing programme - an ‘amazing’ service he said he will never forget.”

Henrietta Alderman, from the Optical Confederation, said: “Investing in community eye care is a cost effective way of helping people with learning disabilities stay independent and prevents unnecessary sight loss.”

More than 20 MPs and peers, including Alistair Burt, were among the delegates at the reception on July 5 where the petition was launched. For more information and to sign the petition, visit https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/133239