SeeAbility launched the third annual report from the Children in Focus Campaign on Wednesday, May 9th at a special event attended by the headteachers of the special schools involved in the project.

We have been sight testing children in a number of special schools since 2013 and our third annual report looks back at three years of sight testing work.

This period covers the results of sight tests with over 700 pupils and demonstrates not just the high level of sight problems amongst children in special schools but also the struggle that many children with complex needs have accessing routine sight tests in the community.


The stats

Over the last three years we have found:

  • Nearly half of children tested have a problem with their vision
  • Four in ten children seen for the first time had no history of eye care. There was little change to this figure even amongst children of secondary school age.
  • Few children (7.1%) have accessed a community optician for a routine sight test – in fact, it was much more common for children to be seen in busy hospital eye clinics for sight tests instead


Sight problems found

Astonishingly nearly 100 pupils had a vision problem previously unknown to their school or parents. Some of these children could be registered as blind, so poor was their vision. Serious sight problems have been newly identified and children referred for treatment.

However, the vast majority of children have vision problems easily treatable or rectifiable – most often with glasses.

SeeAbility found that about a third of children in special schools need glasses, often of high prescriptions, and by dispensing glasses in school, it means the children get their glasses quickly, and repaired or replaced as well.

Working with special schools means information can also be easily shared with both parents and teachers to the benefit of all.


A national programme?

The report is further proof that a national programme of sight testing in special schools could save the NHS and care services money in the long run.

Supporting the report launch, James Boylan, Headteacher at Heritage House special school in Buckinghamshire, said:

For many of our pupils, they have had the first assessment of their vision in their lives with some prescribed spectacles for the first time. It is a pleasure to work with SeeAbility and to see the daily lives of many of our pupils and their families transformed.

Read the full report.