National sight loss and disability charity, SeeAbility, has launched a new resource outlining how local optical committees (LOCs) and Local Eye Health Networks (LEHNs) can work with it to improve access to eye care for people with learning disabilities.
Established through support from the LOC Support Unit (LOCSU), the resource aims to address the issue of patients with learning disabilities not receiving the vision treatment they need, despite this group being 10 times more likely to have serious sight problems than others.
The People with learning disabilities and eye care – what every LEHN and LOC needs to know document details what can be done to improve access in local areas for this group of people and gives tips and tricks, from using pictures rather than letters in diagnosis to allowing extra time or multiple appointments so as not to overwhelm a patient, Stephen Kill, eye care manager at SeeAbility told OT.
Research estimates that adults with learning disabilities are 10 times more likely to have serious sight problems than other people, while for children this figure grows to being 28 times more likely. Despite this, many people with learning disabilities are not receiving the eye care they need.
Among the suggestions for improvement in the resource is: enhancements to community sight tests and targeted work in special schools for people with learning disabilities to be included in eye health needs assessments; dedicated services for hard-to-reach groups with commissioners; and promoting the LOCSU community eye care pathway for people with learning disabilities over the age of 14.
SeeAbility and LOCSU confirmed that they are already working with a number of LEHNs and clinical commissioning groups across England, which will help the delivery of the LEHN and England Vision Strategy’s aim to improve access and detect eye conditions early in hard-to-reach groups.
Mr Kill called on each LOC and LEHN in the UK to: “Think about what people’s experience might be like … And to ask – are people missing out?" “It’s a matter of equal access to services,” he emphasised.
To view the resource, visit the SeeAbility website.