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Picture book promotes better eye health

Looking after my eyes is designed to improve awareness and understanding of eye health among people with learning disabilities

04 Sep 2019 by Andrew McClean

SeeAbility and publishing charity Beyond Words have launched a picture book that promotes better eye health for people with learning disabilities.

The wordless story, Looking after my eyes, is designed to improve awareness and understanding, while supporting decision making around eye health.

It highlights the importance of regular sight tests and everyone’s right to good quality eye care, while demonstrating the adjustments that eye care providers are legally required to make to ensure their services are accessible.

Head of engagement at SeeAbility, Scott Watkin, said: “No one is too disabled to have a sight test and no one should have to live with vision problems. It took me a long time to find the support I need but this book will help more people with learning disabilities get the right support in time.”

The book tells a story of two characters; one who gets her first pair of spectacles and a second who undergoes surgery for cataracts.

The charities noted that professional best practice is demonstrated throughout and the characters’ emotional responses to their experiences are central to the story.

Authors Mr Watkin, Baroness Sheila Hollins from Beyond Words, Stephen Kill from SeeAbility and Professor Margaret Woodhouse from Cardiff University worked with artist Beth Webb, advisors with learning disabilities, their supporters and other eye care professionals to create the book over 18 months.

During development, feedback was sought from over 70 adults with learning disabilities in order to incorporate their ideas and experiences into the book.

Looking after my eyes is printed in a larger landscape format to make it easier to see and is designed to be used to prepare someone before having a sight test, hospital visit or operation.

Speaking about the book, Baroness Hollins, said: “Being able to see is something we may take for granted until we experience sight loss ourselves. Losing one’s sight can have a devastating effect on almost every aspect of our lives. I hope that this book will help to inform and prepare everyone who reads it for if and when their own sight is impaired.”

The book was launched at the Beyond Words 30-year anniversary event on 3 September at the House of Lords.

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