Why people with learning disabilities need to wear glasses
Research has shown that six in ten adults with learning disabilities need glasses to correct their vision. People with learning disabilities have the same need to wear glasses as people without learning disabilities, no matter the severity of their disability. Vision isn’t just about reading, working or driving. It is about being able to understand the world around you, moving around safely and communicating with other people.
Children have a secondary reason - glasses help the eyes to develop to their maximum visual potential. We are born with relatively poor vision and it continues to develop as we grow. The eyes and the brain ‘learn’ how to see until we reach adult levels of vision by the age of eight or nine. It is important that someone’s eyes are seeing as well as possible during this time when vision is developing to ensure the best possible vision in the future.
There are a few common reasons for needing glasses:
- Myopia or short-sightedness – makes objects far away appear blurry
- Hyperopia or long-sightedness – when someone's eye isn't focusing clearly and close up vision is the worst affected
- Accommodation – describes the ability of the eye to change focus to see objects clearly, and often gets worse as we get older
- Astigmatism or distorted focus – causes a blurry image because the eye surfaces are not perfectly regularly curved
- Presbyopia – the normal process of the eye ageing, which can occur much younger in people with learning disabilities
- Amblyopia – sometimes called ‘lazy eye’ when vision is not developing properly in children
Getting new glasses
Glasses take time to get used to, particularly for children and people with learning disabilities. Some people take to their glasses straight away, but others will need to spend time slowly building up to wearing them.
They need to be comfortable and fit correctly. It will help to practice wearing new glasses while doing something enjoyable.
No one knew just how much Nathaniel needed glasses until SeeAbility visited his special school to give him an eye test.
Find an optometrist
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Eye care resources
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