A boy having his sight tested

Parents support ‘lifechanging’ eye care in special schools

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 As the article below was written when the service was in jeopardy, it may now contain some out of date information relating to future provision.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.

 In the week schools return from their Spring break, SeeAbility has released the results of a satisfaction survey, showing overwhelming parental satisfaction with our special schools eye care service.

SeeAbility also asked parents if there should be a service in all special schools, and 98% of parents agreed (the remainder of parents neutral).

A word cloud showing prominently words like helpful, professional, friendly and understanding

These are some of the words parents have been using in response to a SeeAbility satisfaction survey with our service. SeeAbility is one part of a current NHS scheme, where we deliver sight tests and glasses in London schools. This year over 400 parents responded which was a 19% response rate.

We found:

  • 97% of parents are happy with the NHS funded SeeAbility eye care service
  • 98% would recommend our service to other parents
  • 98% were happy with the glasses their child had received
  • 93% said they understood more about their child’s vision after receiving the service

“SeeAbility have been excellent in their services, with all the stress and appointments we as parents have for our special needs child it is comforting to know that as far as their sight is concerned it is all managed under one roof at school….if this service wasn’t available a lot of children may never get their eyes checked which long term would give NHS more problems going forward.”

- Parent S

Currently it remains unclear what will happen after 31 July 2023 for the existing NHS service that has so far reached 83 special schools, delivering thousands of sight tests and glasses. The planned NHS rollout to more special schools has been halted for evaluation.

As part of our work to progress widespread reform of the eye care system for people with learning disabilities, we’re redoubling our calls on NHS England to stick with its programme to rollout eye care to all special schools given such positive feedback.

Half of children in a special school have a sight problem as vision issues are particularly high for children with more severe learning disabilities.


Lisa Donaldson, our Head of Eye Care and Vision, said:

“It’s not just SeeAbility, there are eye care teams around the country across primary and secondary care quietly delivering lifechanging and sight saving eye care to children under this NHS scheme, as well as reducing the need for these children to be attending hospital eye clinics.

"What was striking this year was how strongly parents felt about the service, and the benefits of being in school. Parents and children have shaped this service over many years. But there’s always room for improvement, which is why we run our annual survey to take parents helpful suggestions on board. I want to thank all the parents that took the time out to respond.”

Lisa concludes:

“The NHS is looking for solutions to many problems in eye care and this is just one of them. It shows things can be done differently and more efficiently, providing failsafe care for some of those children most at risk of a sight problem.”

Further reading

You can read more about our campaign to improve eye care for people with learning disabilities, and blogs from parents, teachers and eye care professionals on why incremental reform started in special schools on our campaign page.