Children in Focus

Children with learning disabilities are 28 times more likely to have a serious sight problem. Since 2013, SeeAbility has provided sight testing and glasses in 11 special schools in London, Buckinghamshire, County Durham and Greater Manchester.

From this work, our research shows that thousands of children with disabilities across the country are missing out on the eye care they need. Over four in ten pupils had no history of sight tests or eye care, and yet half of the children we have seen have had a problem with their eyes or vision, and at least a third need glasses. Now, at last, thanks to our work and the support we have had, NHS England is planning a similar programme of eye care for special schools across England from 2020.

Our model of special school sight testing is based on the 'Framework for the provision of eye care in special schools in England' paper, written in collaboration with the country's optical bodies. You can read more this paper, our peer reviewed research and our latest report A Change in Sight on our reports and research page.

We have done much of this critical work through fundraised and granted income. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, this is leading national change and we continue to run our programmes of eye care work and campaign for reforms. Please go to our donate page and make a real lasting difference to children and adults with learning disabilities in this country.

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Schools we currently work in

We currently provide sight tests in the following schools:

We have now provided over 4,000 sight tests to more than 1,500 children and supplied and fitted over 2,000 pairs of glasses!

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Lisa gives Nasir from The Village School a specialist sight test

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The team

Optometrist: they carry out the sight test using a range of equipment suitable for children with disabilities, check the health of the eyes, prescribe glasses when needed and make referrals to other professionals when necessary. We share a detailed, plain English report on each child's visual abilities, needs and limitations with everyone involved with their education, health and care.

Orthoptist: they see all the new four to five-year-olds starting in reception and complete a joint assessment with the optometrist to check for squints and lazy eyes.

Dispensing Optician: they chaperone the optometrist and measure for and fit any glasses that are needed, undertake repairs and follow ups to ensure children are successfully wearing their glasses. When needed, they also give advice on helping children to wear their glasses.

Practice Manager, with the support of the Practice Administrator: they liaise with the rest of the team, families and schools to plan clinics, co-ordinate the supply of glasses and the sharing of eye and vision reports.

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Our awards

In 2017, our Dispensing Optician Ned Saunders was awarded the Optician Magazine Dispensing Optician of the Year Award for his work on the Children in Focus project.

In 2019 our research was awarded the College of Optometrists Giles Van Colle Memorial Award for Excellence in Paediatric Clinical Research.

In 2020, in partnership with the schools where we provide eye care, we won the NASEN (National Association of Special Schools) Provision of the Year Award 2020.

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Our eye care team receiving their Nasen award for their work in special schools

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Our stories

Read about some of the children we have given sight tests to and the difference we have made to their lives.

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Contact

We would love to hear from areas that have or are setting up similar services. The opportunity of a new NHS funded programme means that from 2020 new services should be up and running in many more schools!

For more information on our work in special schools, contact Lisa Donaldson (Head of Eye Health) on 07899 975 143 or email: [email protected]

Or Laura Christie (Head of Eye Care and Vision) on 0161 748 6107 or email: [email protected]

Or Noopur Patel (Optometry Clinic Manager) on 01372 755 068 or [email protected]