Care services minister Paul Burstow has backed a charity’s campaign to improve eye health services for people with learning disabilities.
The Liberal Democrat MP gave his support to SeeAbility’s ‘eye 2 eye’ campaign on a recent visit to the Morden Eye Centre, where he saw teenager Roshni Kothari receiving an enhanced sight test for people with learning disabilities. This was Kothari’s first sight test in the community, having previously been treated at Sutton Eye Hospital. Recent research commissioned by SeeAbility and Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) highlighted that there are 1 million adults with a learning disability in the UK. People with learning disabilities are 10 times more likely to have serious sight problems than other people, with 6 in 10 people needing glasses. People with severe or profound learning disabilities are most likely to have sight problems. The research also predicted that there will be a 10% increase in people with learning disabilities and sight loss over the next 20 years.
Burstow said; “Seeing the difference personalised tests in the community make to people like Roshni reminds us of the people behind the statistics: there are one million people in the UK with a learning disability, and 60% of those need glasses – and the support to get used to them. These people and their carers deserve our help.”
David Scott-Ralphs, chief executive of SeeAbility added: “This was a great opportunity to show the Minister an enhanced eye test in practice. People with learning disabilities are ten times more likely to have sight problems than other people in the population and yet are the least likely to get the right help and support with their eye care. Through SeeAbility's eye 2 eye Campaign we will continue to champion this issue for people with learning disabilities.”