Easy Eye Care Pathway welcomes MP on practice visit

MP and shadow minister for disabled people, Vicky Foxcroft, visited Sight Centre in Deptford, a practice accredited as part of the pathway aiming to improve eye care for people with learning disabilities and autism

 MP Vicky Foxcroft stands in the centre of the frame with SeeAbility Eye Care Champions, Lance Campbell and Grace McGill, on her left and right. Foxcroft holds a sign that states: ‘Let’s improve eye care for people with learning disabilities! #EqualRightToSight’

The Easy Eye Care Service in South East London welcomed a visit from MP for Lewisham, Deptford, and shadow minister for disabled people, Vicky Foxcroft, to see how the pathway can improve eye care for people with learning disabilities and autism.

Sight Centre in Deptford is an accredited practice in the Easy Eye Care Pathway, which launched in South East London last year.

The service enables practices to provide longer or multiple appointments for people with learning disabilities or autism, along with any further adjustments the individual may need.

Gus Sidhu, principal optometrist at the practice, shared how adjustments can be made to support patients and demonstrated that an individual doesn’t need to be able to read or say what they can see to have an eye test.

Sidhu commented: “Taking part in the East Eye Care Pathway is our most recent venture in supporting the NHS locally to make better use of opticians.”

Pointing out that optometrists can identify concerns early and help save a patient’s sight, he added: “for people with learning disabilities who might not be able to say there’s a problem, it’s just one of the reasons this service is so vital.”

Foxcroft also met SeeAbility’s London eye care champions, Lance Campbell and Grace McGill.

The eye care champions discussed how people with learning disabilities are more likely to have sight problems and shared their personal experiences of barriers to having eye tests.

McGill commented: “I really enjoyed talking about the work we are doing as eye care champions to make eye care more accessible. Not many people know that people with learning disabilities, like myself, are ten times more likely to have a sight problem than other people.”

Having easy-read information, and appointments with eye care professionals who have received additional training, is “really important,” McGill added.

Campbell welcomed the opportunity to discuss with Foxcroft, as the shadow minister for disabled people, “how I have found my way into work as a person with a disability.”

“I explained how I share information about eye care and how I recently have been talking to children in special schools about the world of work,” he shared.

Offering a comment on the importance of the pathway, he emphasised: “My message is please do come and use the service – there are only a few in the country, so we really want to see more areas adopt what South East London is doing, as it is great for people with learning disabilities and autism.”

Reflecting on the visit, Foxcroft said she was “thrilled” that the Easy Eye Care Pathway is available in the constituency.

“As shadow minister for disabled people, I am only too aware that many people with disabilities can struggle to find the right eye care,” she commented, adding: “SeeAbility are doing a fantastic job in raising awareness and ensuring appropriate adjustments are implemented in their partner opticians.”

Read more about the Easy Eye Care Pathway in South East London, and how it is being promoted to patients and practices, in OT’s interview with Trevor Hunter, eye care pathway co-ordinator at SeeAbility, and Trang Dinh, learning disability and autism specialist prescribing adviser at South East London Integrated Care System.