The current sight testing and funding system in England is letting an estimated one million people with learning disabilities down, according to a new report released by national vision charity SeeAbility.
Publishing the Delivering an equal right to sight report, the charity highlighted how people with learning disabilities are still missing out on potentially life-changing sight tests.
Acknowledging some of the current work that is being carried out to improve this, the charity stressed that there is still much more to be done in order to address the issue nationally. As a result, the charity is calling on NHS England to deliver a more inclusive system of eye care for adults and children with learning disabilities.
In the report, SeeAbility states that, as well as NHS-funded sight tests for all people with learning disabilities of working age, it would like to see a new national pathway of eye care for adults with learning disabilities that helps fund longer appointment times or multiple appointments to complete sight tests, and better support with glasses.
The report was presented at a Parliamentary event hosted by Lord Holmes of Richmond earlier this month. Coinciding with this, a petition calling for a change to NHS sight tests that meet the needs of people with learning disabilities was launched online.
Commenting on the report, SeeAbility’s eye care and vision development officer, Scott Watkin, said: “All the good work helping people with learning disabilities live independent lives in the community is no good if we don’t make sure these people have a basic right to sight. Even now, and in the job I do, I still hear of people who have never had a sight test because no one thought it would be possible. It would be great if we could make that a thing of the past.”
To date, the petition has more than 1300 signatures. At the point that 10,000 signatures are secured, the government will respond to the petition. If it reaches 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.