Why people with learning disabilities need to wear glasses

Research has shown that six in ten adults with learning disabilities need glasses to correct their vision. People with learning disabilities have the same need to wear glasses as other people. Vision isn’t just about reading, working and driving. It is about being able to understand the world around you, moving around safely and communicating with other people.

Children have a secondary reason - glasses help the eyes to develop to their maximum visual potential. We are born with relatively poor vision and it continues to develop as we grow. The eyes and the brain ‘learn’ how to see until we reach adult levels of vision by the age of eight or nine. It is important that the eye is seeing as well as possible during the time when vision is developing to ensure good vision in the future.

There are a few common reasons for needing glasses:

  • Myopia or short-sightedness - makes objects far away appear blurry
  • Hyperopia or long-sightedness - when someone's eye isn't focusing clearly and close up vision is the worst effected
  • Accommodation - describes the ability of the eye to change focus to see objects clearly, and often gets worse as we get older
  • Astigmatism or distorted focus - causes a blurry image because the eye surfaces are not perfectly regularly curved
  • Presbyopia - the normal process of the eye ageing and can occur much younger in people with learning disabilities
  • Amblyopia – sometimes called ‘lazy eye’ when vision is not developing properly in children

We have two factsheets that cover glasses in more detail.

Download Glasses for adults with learning disabilities

Download Glasses for children with learning disabilities

Getting new glasses

A lady with Down

Glasses take time to get used to, particularly for children and people with learning disabilities. Some people take to their glasses straight away, but others will need a programme to slowly build up to wearing them.

They need to be comfortable and fit correctly. It will help to practice wearing new glasses doing something enjoyable.

SeeAbility has two easy read factsheets to help adults and children getting new glasses:

Easy read download Getting new glasses - adults

Easy read download Getting new glasses - children

Wearing glasses

A young boy with learning disabilities wearing a pair of glasses

If someone has been prescribed glasses, it is important that they receive the correct support to wear them. This includes keeping the glasses clean and comfortable and wearing the right glasses for the right task.

SeeAbility has two easy read factsheets to help adults and children with their glasses:

Easy read download Wearing glasses - adults

Easy read download Wearing glasses - children