No one knew just how much Nathaniel needed glasses until SeeAbility visited his special school.
Nathaniel has learning disabilities and some mobility difficulties. Like other children with complex issues, it means he is far more likely to have a sight problem.
SeeAbility's optometrist, Lisa Donaldson, went to Nathaniel’s special school as part of our Children in Focus project. She discovered Nathaniel is extremely short-sighted. Without glasses, his world is limited to just a few centimetres in front of his face. Everything else is just a blur.
To put that into context, severe short-sightedness starts at minus 6. Nathaniel is minus 18!
Add in a profound hearing problem and you realise just how important glasses are to him. Nathaniel needs them from the moment he wakes up in order to make sense of things visually.
Nathaniel’s head teacher Kay Charles says:
"He has lots of different needs and as a result his concentration is always in the balance. If he can’t see and hear properly, he quickly becomes distracted and isolated – resulting in bad behaviour. If you can’t see, you can easily feel that you are not part of a group.
"Since Nathaniel has had proper testing and glasses from SeeAbility he feels included and we can develop his independence. His balance is better and his confidence is growing. He feels part of the class and can focus better because he can see so much more.
"He is a young person who could quite easily have gone through school life held back because no one knew that he needed glasses. Thanks to SeeAbility he has a future where he can make the most of what he can do."
The eye test
"Nathaniel is a pleasure to test. He’s very cooperative and he will do anything to help within his capabilities because he loves his glasses. I hold up cards with pictures from the Kay Picture Test. Nathaniel can use sign language to say what he sees. He gets a good level of vision with his glasses on." says Lisa Donaldson.
Because Nathaniel is very short-sighted, he is at increased risk of retinal detachment, a problem that needs swift action if detected as it can potentially lead to blindness. Lisa uses an ophthalmoscope to look inside Nathaniel’s eyes and check his retinas.
And although testing Nathaniel is relatively straightforward for Lisa she adds:
"It would be harder to help Nathaniel at a high street optical practice as he relies on signing to communicate - which few opticians can do."
Sometimes it's as simple as a pair of glasses
Nathaniel also receives support with his glasses from specialist teacher, Tanja Hohler, who recalls:
"One time he came to school with his granny's reading spectacles on because he knows glasses enable him to see. But they were totally the wrong prescription. As soon as he put on the right pair of glasses he had the biggest smile on his face!
"SeeAbility has helped us find better frames for Nathaniel. He is an active boy but doesn’t have great control over his movements, so he has a history of breaking his glasses. The new frames are rubber and more robust.
"Now, whenever he sees me or the SeeAbility team, Nathaniel will give us two thumbs up and point to his glasses."