It can be easy to assume that a person with learning disabilities has good vision. However, research suggests that adults with learning disabilities are ten times more likely to have serious sight problems than other people.

  • People with learning disabilities are unlikely to be able to raise concerns about their eyes and vision
  • An eye test with an optometrist is the best way to check how well someone can see and that their eyes are healthy
  • Adults should have an eye test every two years or more often if required
  • No-one is too disabled to have an eye test
  • You don’t have to be able to read or talk to have an eye test

A person with learning disabilities is entitled to receive an eye test which meets their needs and this should usually be carried out at an optometrist’s practice or at the person’s home if required. They will be prescribed glasses where needed - it is estimated that six in ten adults with learning disabilities need glasses to correct their vision. It is often assumed that a person with learning disabilities will not tolerate wearing glasses but, with the right support, this is possible for most people.

People who have eye conditions identified - such as cataracts - should be referred to the hospital eye clinic and receive treatment if needed. People with learning disabilities who have a visual impairment need this to be identified so they can receive appropriate support.

 

Risk

Without regular eye tests, there is a risk of permanent sight loss from eye conditions which could have been treated. An eye test can also detect other health concerns such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

People who have diabetes should also have an annual screening of the retina to check that it is healthy. This is different from the eye test and it is very important that both appointments are kept.

Carers and supporters really need to understand the importance of vision. Our Functional Vision Assessment tool can help carers and supporters look for signs of sight problems. This information should then be shared with the optometrist at the eye test through our   easy read 'Telling the optometrist about me' form.