Eye Health Week: Getting a sight test
My name Is Lance Campbell and I am a London Eye Care Champion for SeeAbility. I am not visually impaired but I am mildly autistic. My aim as an Eye Care Champion is to go out and promote eye care for people with learning disabilities virtually and face to face. As an Eye Care Champion, I go out along with my colleagues and do presentations to universities, health groups and advocacy groups for people with learning disabilities.
I am writing this blog for National Eye Health Week (19th – 25th September) to get the message out there about eye care because it is very important.
Having an eye test is something I never got round to doing. I didn’t think it was important especially as I thought my eyes were fine. But since joining SeeAbility in 2019, when I was 19 years old, I learnt how important having an eye test was and especially as I’m promoting eye care, I needed the experience for myself.
I went to my first eye test at a local opticians. I was already doing some work experience there and I mentioned to the optician that I never had an eye test before, and they straight away gave me one. I was nervous, I didn’t know what to expect. The optician explained how the test was going to work. The most surprising one for me was the puff of air, where they test your eye pressure (one of the checks for the eye condition glaucoma). It scared me a bit. But they explained it well.
My results were all positive and the optician gave me my prescription. They asked me if I was managing OK with my vision and I said yes. They explained that I could have glasses but it was a very weak prescription and I decided that I didn’t need them at the time.
I learned that day that it was important to go for an eye test so that if there is a slight problem it can be addressed or prevented from getting worse. Since then, I went for another eye test 2 years later, I wasn’t as nervous because I knew what to expect. The results were mainly positive but one of my eyes again had a small prescription. It’s something I’ve just got to be alert about for future eye tests.
I would really encourage everyone with learning disabilities to have regular eye tests – at SeeAbility, we think this should be every year because people are more likely to have sight problems.
We have lots of resources and factsheets that can help you to understand about eye care on our website. We even have documents in easy read for those who find it hard to understand certain subjects.
SeeAbility also has stories to look through as well. One of these is about a boy called Nathaniel who has learning disabilities, a profound hearing problem and some mobility difficulties. He found it very difficult to concentrate and join in at school. His behaviour could be challenging but that was his way of expressing himself because no one knew that he was also extremely shortsighted. After he had his first eye test and received the glasses he needed, his life changed completely.
SeeAbility can help guide you and give you eye care advice. Another useful tool on our website is the find an optometrist page. You can put your address in and it will find local opticians who work well with people with learning disabilities. That is useful especially if you have never been before.
As Eye Care Champions in London, my colleague Grace and I can deliver presentations to you explaining about being eye care aware or if there’s something about eye care we can’t help you with, we can signpost you to someone that can help you. I really enjoy my job because I like helping people and giving people advice. It’s a great experience to me especially as this is my first paid job and I never worked in this field before. I do think it’s important to have an eye test so you are aware of what’s happening with your eyes.
If you need any advice or questioned answers please feel free to contact myself or my colleagues.