Thousands of vulnerable children with disabilities are missing out on crucial eye care, despite the high risk of sight problems.

New research from SeeAbility, shows nearly four in ten (37%) pupils attending special schools have no history of eye tests. This alarming figure is made worse as children with learning disabilities are 28 times more likely to have serious sight problems than other children.

There are 100,000 children in special schools in England and if these findings are replicated nationwide 37,000 children with disabilities are missing out on the eye care they need. If eye problems are undetected children’s sight will be at risk. The statistics are in our new report An equal right to sight published today (Friday 18th September) as part of our Children in Focus Campaign launch. SeeAbility says it’s unacceptable that there is no national plan to meet the eye care needs of children with disabilities.

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 David Scott-Ralphs, SeeAbility Chief Executive.

We want people to join our Children in Focus Campaign and sign the petition on our website. This will be handed in to the Department of Health as this is a major health inequality that the government and NHS have a responsibility to address. The report draws evidence from the charity’s research project with Cardiff University’s School of Optometry and Vision Science. SeeAbility’s team has been delivering specialist sight tests to pupils in a cluster of London based special schools since October 2013.

The pilot scheme has since extended to seven schools. One place to benefit from the important work of the Children in Focus Campaign is The Village School in North London.

Their head teacher, Kay Charles says, Every child in this country has the right to a free eye test. We need to look at these things in depth and change it for the better because thousands of children are missing out and they are the most vulnerable in our society. That has got to be wrong.

SeeAbility gave Brandon a pupil at The Village School his first ever sight test at the age of 16. It was found that he could not see out of his right eye. If Brandon had received treatment before the age of seven he might be able to see perfectly today. While we can do nothing but support Brandon, we have been able to dramatically improve the lives of other children.

Lana has profound disabilities and cannot move or speak. Her sight test revealed that her vision is blurred, but Lana’s new glasses allow her to focus better and access a high tech system called an Eye Gaze. It means she can now communicate with her world.


Watch the Campaign video.

If you want to support SeeAbility’s Children in Focus Campaign, sign our petition here or tweet #EqualRightToSight @seeability. You can also make a £5 donation by texting SEE to 70004.