25.01.2012

Vision organisations raise awareness of sight loss risk

Vision organisations raise awareness of sight loss risk

By Alexa Kaczka

A number of organisations from around the UK have teamed with the government in a bid to help raise awareness of the fact that people with learning disabilities are ten times more likely to have serious sight problems.

The All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) on Eye Health and Visual Impairment and Learning Disability recently held a joint meeting to discuss research by leading sight loss charities SeeAbility and the Royal National Institute of Blind People.

The APPG meeting aimed to raise awareness among parliamentarians of the research's key findings, namely that there are one million adults with a learning disability in the UK, who all have an elevated risk of having sight problems.

Aside from the fact that people with learning disabilities are ten times more likely to have serious sight problems than other people, those with severe or profound learning disabilities are most likely to have defective vision.

The research found that six in ten people with learning disabilities need glasses and often need support to get used to them, while there will be a ten per cent increase in people with learning disabilities and sight loss over the next 20 years.

Chaired by Tom Clarke, co-chair of the APPG on Learning Disability, the meeting included a number of speeches from vision industry experts, who are aiming to draw attention to the fact that awareness of disabled people's risk of eyesight problems needs to be heightened.

David Scott-Ralphs, chief executive of SeeAbility, said it is a sad fact that people with learning disabilities are ten times more likely to have sight problems than other people in the population and yet are least likely to get the right help and support with their eye care.

"This event was an important opportunity to raise awareness and to suggest realistic ways to improve practice nationally with policy and decision makers. Through SeeAbility's eye 2 eye Campaign we will be continuing to champion this issue for people with learning disabilities," he explained.

Mr Clarke added that it is now important for the NHS, eye health professionals and other local agencies to work more effectively to help improve the optical health services of people with a learning disability.

by Martin Burns


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