No looking back: how eye care has transformed our children’s lives
The government backs the Special Schools Eye Care Service!
In June 2023 we were delighted to receive confirmation from the government that NHS sight tests will be on offer to all pupils in special schools from 2024/2025. As the article below was written when the service was in jeopardy, it may now contain some out of date information relating to future provision. Thank you to everyone who has supported the campaign, written blogs and stood firm about the benefits of the service.
This week we are featuring a series of blogs on the benefits of the NHS Special Schools Eye Care Service. Parents have been sharing their views on how the Service has helped overcome the challenges of getting suitably adjusted eye care, with some children being able to see properly for the first time in their special education. With the future of the Service uncertain, it is important that parents voices are heard.
Louise, is mum to Harry who has benefitted from the new Service in his school. Louise says:
“I have struggled so hard to get eye care for Harry in the community. The experience is just not easy, and yet I know that Harry’s eyesight needs supporting as he needs glasses and he has an eye condition called Nystagmus which involves uncontrollable eye movements and means he needs glasses to support this too.
"As he’s got older I was feeling stumped until the Service came to his local school, now he is just so much more comfortable and the glasses are made up with his needs in mind. Also I also wear another hat – as a Teaching Assistant in the school I can also see how much eye care has benefitted children in the same boat. Some of the children could not see before, now they can, and that is so fantastic for them.”
Claire is mum to James, aged 9, who started to use the NHS Service in 2021.
“James has a learning disability, sensory issues and is non-verbal. I had struggled so hard to know where he could get his eyes checked, and to be honest it didn’t feel like the biggest priority because of everything else we battle for. This Service is built around the children and that is exactly what they need.
James had his first eye test ever just before his 9th birthday. I was amazed that actually he really needed glasses, as I would have found it hard to tell. But now he has them I can see how much he needs them! It’s a fantastic service for families like ours who have no other way”.
Dee is a passionate advocate for the Service:
"My daughter Kiyana has needed glasses from an early age. Having the school Service not only made sure she had her regular eye tests but we had a choice of frames that specially fitted her, and a spare pair too!
I’m one of the lucky parents with a child in one of the schools that had this model of care before it became NHS funded. Hand on heart I can say stress free access to eye care over the years means Kiyana is a different girl and is so much more confident now.
This is why I’ve been part of the NHS promotion for the service, taking part in filming to promote this for all special schools. It's heartbreaking that things are now so uncertain. My message to NHS England is this Service must continue for all special schools.”