Vulnerable children with disabilities missing out on crucial eye care in Yorkshire

James Boardman 07967642437'Seeability photo shoot at The Village School in Brent September 20, 2013.
James Boardman 07967642437'Seeability photo shoot at The Village School in Brent September 20, 2013.

New research froma national sight loss and disability charity, shows nearly four in ten pupils attending special schools in the Yorkshire and Humber region have no history of eye tests.

The figure from SeeAbility also show children with learning disabilities are 28 times more likely to have serious sight problems than other children.

There are 8,390 students in special schools in Yorkshire and the Humber and if these findings are replicated across the region 3,104 children with disabilities are missing out on the eye care they need.

The statistics are in the new report ‘An equal right to sight’ from SeeAbility, as part of their Children in Focus Campaign launch. SeeAbility says it’s unacceptable that there is no national plan to meet the eye care needs of children with disabilities.

“We are calling on the government to make sight tests available in every special school in England. Children with profound disabilities may not be able to tell someone they have a sight problem, or get to a high street optician. Let’s bring much needed eye care to them instead,” says David Scott-Ralphs, SeeAbility Chief Executive.

“We want people to join our Children in Focus Campaign and sign the petition on our website. This will be handed in to the Department of Health as this is a major health inequality that the government and NHS have a responsibility to address.”

The report draws evidence from the charity’s research project with Cardiff University’s School of Optometry and Vision Science. SeeAbility’s team has been delivering specialist sight tests to pupils in a cluster of London based special schools since October 2013. The pilot scheme has since extended to seven schools.

David Scott-Ralphs added: “The government needs to make it easier for children with disabilities to get a sight test. Making sight tests available in every special school in England would be a start in making the reforms needed and help thousands of children with disabilities.”