SPICE - Promoting Healthy Eye Care

25th September 2018 |

Adults with learning disabilities are 10 times more likely to experience sight problems than the general population. The more profound and complex a person’s learning disability is, the more likely it is that they will have a serious sight problem. Certain conditions such as Down’s syndrome are known to cause sight problems, and people with learning disabilities are at a higher risk of developing both dementia and diabetes, which again can put the person at a higher risk of developing problems with their eyesight. These statistics are alarming. And yet people with learning disabilities are still not always getting the right support on how they can look after their eyes.

Making A Difference

Here at Future Directions, we are working alongside SeeAbility, a UK charity that supports people with sight loss and multiple disabilities, to close this gap and promote healthy eye care. Members of our SPICE group, have undertaken a ‘train the trainer’ course from SeeAbility and have then gone on to deliver training to other organisations, individuals with learning disabilities and self-advocacy groups across Greater Manchester. The training is run by and for people with learning disabilities.  The training is an informative and fun session that covers going to the opticians, having an eye test, how eye tests can be done differently to meet individual needs, looking after your glasses and looking at equipment that is available for people with sight loss. We also use simulation glasses so people can experience what it’s like to have certain eye conditions such as cataracts.

Adaptable Eye Tests

Everyone with a learning disability can, and should, be having regular eye tests; no one is too disabled to have an eye test. However a standard sight test might not be suitable for some people and they might not know that other support is available. SPICE therefore promote the Greater Manchester 'Eye Tests Made Easy Scheme' and show how provisions can be made to make eye tests accessible for everyone.  For example, some people will need reasonable adjustments to have an eye test such as a longer appointment, or a few short ones so people have the time and support they need. This new scheme is making this possible, but not everyone knows it exists, let alone how to access it. SPICE are working hard to change this and ensure that everyone knows that eye tests can be done differently and can work for everyone.

Empowering People To Have A Voice

The importance of good sight and vision is crucial to how we see and interact with the world around us. It is vital that people with learning disabilities are getting the right support and that their eye care needs are being met. Services like the ‘Eye Test Made Easy’ scheme is key to achieving this, and through the training that our SPICE group are providing we are empowering people with learning disabilities to have a voice on what is important to them when they go for a sight test and ensure that they are aware of their rights and what support is available to them. If our aim is to support people to have as much independence and control over their own lives as possible then it is paramount that we make sure that everyone has access to the eye care they need.

If you would like any more information please contact Jenny Neville at Future Directions on 0161 769 9000 or email [email protected]

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