A first exciting collaboration between SeeAbility and Vision for Life (Essilor’s Social Impact Fund) will directly reach thousands of people with learning disabilities, as well as eye care professionals who will benefit from the our Every Day in Focus programme.

Vision for Life’s funding will help support our seven Eye Care Champions – many of whom are people with lived experience of disability – in London and the North West of England, to ensure people with learning disabilities have the right information and support they need to get their eyes tested and vision corrected.

With the COVID-19 pandemic having highlighted the inequalities faced on a daily basis by people with learning disabilities, this programme is needed more than ever. Globally, people with learning disabilities are ten times more likely to have a serious sight problem than the general population but far less likely to access a sight test and the eye care they need.

Frederic Corbasson, Executive Director Vision for Life, said:

Good vision is a basic human right: seeing well is essential for our everyday wellbeing and quality of life. It enables us to learn, work, and fully interact with the world around us. At Vision For Life, our goal is to support sustainable vision care infrastructure and programmes, and we are committed to partnering with organisations and funding programs that bring vision care to the communities most in need. SeeAbility’s Every Day in Focus project is a unique and much needed eye care programme which supports some of the most vulnerable people in communities across the UK.

Laura Christie, our Head of Eye Care, said:

When people with learning disabilities and autism can see well they are able to live a full, active and more connected life. There are over a million adults with learning disabilities in the UK and one in ten has a serious sight problem. Our research suggests that as many as half may not have had a recent sight test. This funding from Vision for Life will go a long way towards helping SeeAbility achieve our ambition of eliminating avoidable sight loss in this underserved community.

Lisa Hopkins, our Chief Executive, said:

Addressing the high prevalence of sight loss amongst people with learning disabilities at the earliest possible stage will enhance their quality of life, promote community participation and enable people to fulfil their life’s potential. Having SeeAbility Eye Care champions will ensure people are exercising their right to access NHS eye care services - thereby preventing avoidable sight loss and helping create employment opportunities for people who are under-represented in the work force.

Grace, one of our Eye Care Champions who has a learning disability and sight problems herself, said:

I feel really passionate that having a learning disability doesn’t mean you should miss out on eye care. As an Eye Care Champion I talk to local learning disability groups to build up their confidence about what sight tests involve, and change attitudes towards eye care. This is my first job and has filled me with confidence - I never dreamt that I would be standing up at conferences where I share my experiences of the reasonable adjustments that can be made in optical practices and eye clinics. I’m proud to be part of a programme which is transforming inclusion for people with learning disabilities in their communities.