The Eye Care Needs of People With Learning Disabilities
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The Eye Care Needs of People With Learning Disabilities. An introduction . What we want to tell you.(1). What we want to tell you (2). “Sight helps us learn things and move around”. Sight helps us communicate with others – sight helps us develop and maintain relationships with others

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Sight helps us learn things and move around l.jpg
“Sight helps us learn things and move around”

  • Sight helps us communicate with others – sight helps us develop and maintain relationships with others

  • Sight helps us move safely around our world

  • Sight helps us make sense of our world

  • Sight helps us with our leisure and recreation

  • Sight helps us learn skills, maintain our education and helps us work

  • Sight helps us maintain our independence


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Sight helps us learn things and move around”

  • For more information visit www.lookupinfo.org and view:

  • ‘Understanding and using sight: issues for work with adults with learning disabilities’


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“1 in 3 people with a learning disability has a sight problem”

  • 1 in 3 people with a learning disability has a sight problem, much of which might be correctable

  • It has been suggested that up to 90% of people with Downs Syndrome have significant sight impairments

  • It is estimated that 70% of people with cerebral palsy and learning disabilities have a significant impairment of vision

  • There are at least 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK - about 2% of the population


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“1 in 3 people with a learning disability has a sight problem”

  • For more information visit www.lookupinfo.org - Information for Carers and Supporters and view:

  • Eye Care for People with Learning Disabilities’

  • Visit www.valuingpeople.gov.uk – see the information about health on the website

  • Visit www.rnib.org.uk and see ‘Key Information and Statistics – facts and figures about sight loss in the UK’


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“People may not know they have a sight problems” problem”

Many people may have lived for many years, even their whole lives, not knowing that they have a sight problem.

  • Many supporters and carers don’t know how to recognise if someone has a sight problem.


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“People may not know they have a sight problems problem”

  • Many people with unrecognised or uncorrected sight problems may be reluctant to learn new skills or to do things they use to enjoy.

  • Many people and carers may put this down to their learning disability rather than a correctable sight problem such as a cataract or someone’s eyesight getting worse.


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problem”People may not be able to tell others they have a sight problem”

Undiagnosed or unnoticed sight problems can lead to people becoming:

  • Distressed & angry

  • Anxious and frustrated

  • Withdrawn and frightened

  • Deskilled and de-motivated


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“People may not be able to tell others they have a sight problem”

  • Self harming (eye poking, self injury to head and eyes)

  • Accessible information and skilled support from others can prevent the above from occurring

  • Accessible information and skilled support from others can help people access quality eye care.


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“People may not be able to tell others they have a sight problem …..”

….but by observing someone you might notice signs that they might be developing a sight problem (1).

  • A person’s eyes might look sore or blood-shot, or their eyes might they look cloudy

  • A person might start squinting or moving their head in ‘odd’ positions when looking at, or looking for things


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“People may not be able to tell others they have a sight problem …..”

….but by observing someone you might notice signs that they might be developing a sight problem (2).

  • A person might start to become disoriented

  • A person might no longer enjoy TV or looking at photos etc

  • A person might not recognise familiar faces or places

  • A person might become tentative or fearful in twilight or in shadows, or disoriented in bright sunlight


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“People may not know they problem …..” have a sight problem and may not be able to tell others they have a sight problem”

  • For more information visit www.lookupinfo.org - Information for Carers and Supporters and view:

  • ‘Recognising Eye problems in people with learning disabilities – factsheets 1 & 2’

  • ‘Functional Vision Assessment Top Tips’

  • ‘Taking Action on Eye Problems’


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“No-one is too disabled to have his or her eyes tested”

  • Everyone can have their eyes tested

  • People can visit an optometrist (optician) in their community. If people might find this difficult they can be visited in their own home by a domiciliary optometrist.

  • Eye tests are free to many people who are on benefits and if glasses are needed people will receive vouchers pay for spectacles or to help with the costs of spectacles.

  • It’s a good idea to take as much information about the person to the optometrist before they attend their appointment. This will help the optometrist with the testing of the person’s eyes.


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“Everyone needs regular eye tests” tested”“You need an eye test every two years or more often if your optometrist says you need it”

  • Always remember to attend your appointment – it’s a good idea to have information about eye tests and prescriptions for spectacles or lenses in a health action plan or safe place

  • People will need to attend the optometrist more regularly if they have family members with Glaucoma

  • People may need to attend the optometrist more regularly if they have family members with eye diseases such cataracts or retinitis pigmentosa. If you have diabetes you will have to have regular diabetic eye screening tests


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“You need an eye test every two years or more often if your optometrist says you need it”

  • People also will need to visit an optometrist if they, or some one else, feels there is a problem with their sight. Don’t wait till it’s too late.

  • Sight gets worse with age – almost everyone will need glasses at some time in their life


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your optometrist says you need it”Eye tests are about health checks, not just about getting glasses”

  • Eye tests can identify other health conditions that might otherwise go unnoticed by others

  • Heart disease, blood pressure, anaemia and diabetes are some of the conditions that can be identified through an eye test.

  • Many people with learning difficulties, especially people with Downs Syndrome, often experience premature aging – an eye test helps define that problems might be caused by correctable sight problems rather than being misinterpreted as early onset dementia.

  • People with visual impairments, or who may be blind, still benefit from eye health checks.


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“No-one is too disabled to have their eyes tested. Everyone needs regular eye tests”

  • For more information visit www.lookupinfo.org - Information for Carers and Supporters - and see

  • ‘Eye Care for People with Learning Disabilities’

  • ‘Preparing for an Eye Examination’

  • ‘The Eye Examination Explained’

  • ‘Telling the optometrist about me’

  • ‘Information from the optometrist about my eye test’

  • ‘Healthy Eyes’


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“You don’t need to be able to read or talk to have an eye test”

  • An optometrist can find out a lot about a persons eyes from looking at the eye and observing how a person looks at objects.

  • There are eyesight tests that use pictures and matching cards to test how well a person sees – there are tests which find out how much detail a person can see.

  • It is important to give the optometrist as much information about a person’s sight before they attend their appointment.

  • Some people may need to practice having an eye sight test and might want to visit the optician before the their test so they can become used to the environment.


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“You don’t need to be able to read or talk to have an eye test”

  • For more information visit www.lookupinfo.org - Information for Carers and Supporters - and see

  • ‘The Eye Examination Explained’

  • Visit www.kaypictures.co.uk and see ‘Tests for people with learning disabilities’


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“Lots of people with learning disabilities have to get used to wearing glasses”

  • It can be a strange experience wearing glasses for the first time. People may need encouragement and positive feedback.

  • Some people may prefer to wear their glasses for just a few minutes at first – they may prefer to do so when looking at their favourite TV show, or pictures or favourite possessions.

  • People need to wear the right glasses for the right job. For example reading glasses are not for looking at things far away. If people have different glasses make sure their glasses do not get confused – use labels on the glasses-case to make sure the right glasses are used.


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“Lots of people with learning disabilities have to get used to wearing glasses”

  • People may need to practise putting glasses-frames on and off before they get their prescribed glasses.

  • People may need supporters to keep their glasses in good repair and clean.

  • Sometime this needs to be part of someone’s routine.


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“Lots of people with learning disabilities used to wearing glasses” have to get used to wearing glasses”

  • For more information visit www.lookupinfo.org - Information for Carers and Supporters - and see

  • ‘Understanding why people may need to wear glasses’

  • ‘Making Sense of Prescription Glasses’

  • ‘Getting Contact Lenses for People with Learning Disabilities’

  • ‘Getting used to wearing glasses’


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“Lots of people with learning disabilities have eye operations to make their sight better”

  • People with learning disabilities can have eye operations that will improve their sight.

  • People can have operations such as having cataracts removed, corneal grafts, and laser treatment for treating retinal detachment

  • People and their supporters will need clear information about the risks and benefits of the operation


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“Lots of people with learning disabilities have eye operations to make their sight better”

  • People will need the right support before, during and after their treatment.

  • Some people may need the support of a best interest meeting to decide how or if the operation should take place.


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“Lots of people with learning disabilities have eye operations to make their sight better”

  • For more information visit www.lookupinfo.org - Information for Carers and Supporters - and see

  • Eye conditions that require surgery

  • Eye conditions that require surgery

  • Eye surgery support plan

  • Consent for Medical Treatment for People with Learning Disabilities


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“People with learning disabilities need the same help as everyone else with a sight problem”

  • Everybody with a sight problem is entitled to help and support. This includes people with learning disabilities.

  • If a person is diagnosed as having a sight problem they can choose to be registered. Depending on their sight problem they will registered as Severely Sight Impaired (Blind) or Sight Impaired (Partially sighted).

  • Being registered with a Local Authority entitles people to benefits and services.

  • People cannot be denied these benefits or services because they are learning disabled


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“People with learning disabilities need the same help as everyone else with a sight problem”

  • For more information visit www.lookupinfo.org - Information for Carers and Supporters – and view:

  • Low Vision Services for Adults with Learning Disabilities

  • Rehabilitation Services for people with sight problems

  • Assessment and Registration


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