A new online information service that aims to improve access to eye care information for people with learning disabilities has been launched.

Eye health charity SeeAbility has created the dedicated area – called My eye care – on its website www.seeability.org/myeyecare. It has been developed by SeeAbility together with Mencap service users.

My eye care has been created for people with learning disabilities, and includes easy read factsheets and videos covering eye care related information. For people who cannot read or feel more reassured by the spoken word a female avatar, Emma, describes what’s on the screen to enable, visitors to get the most from the site.

In addition to information about what happens during a sight test, the site has links to key aspects of eye health care including advice about wearing glasses, eye operations and a section outlining the most common eye conditions.

In developing the site, SeeAbility undertook a study with people with learning disabilities, support staff and high street optical practitioners to ascertain their respective needs and how best to service these.  The site contains information specific to each audience.

There are one million adults with learning disabilities in the UK and they are 10 times more likely to be blind or partially sighted with 6 out of 10 needing to wear glasses. People with severe or profound learning disabilities are the most likely to have serious sight problems.

Scott Watkin, SeeAbility’s ambassador who has a learning disability, said: “When you have a learning disability everything’s much more difficult to understand which means that you can miss out on important information that you need.  The great thing about this part of SeeAbility’s website is that’s so straightforward and helps you understand all about sight tests and what will happen and why it’s important to have one.”

Martin Thomas, SeeAbility’s information manager, added: “It is difficult for people with learning disabilities to access good, appropriate eye care. They are most likely to have sight problems and least likely to have a sight test.  Many people with learning disabilities may never have had a sight test and they may not be able to communicate that they have a problem with their eyes.  We worked with people who would benefit from this service to ensure that it is user friendly and provides them and their carers with the information they need to prepare for a sight test. This feedback really helped to shape our design and we’re delighted with the end result. We hope it will give more people access to this vital information and help more people receive good eye healthcare. 

“We also introduced another new section to the website - Eye care hub www.seeability.org/eyecare_hub which contains eye health information and a database where optometrists can enter their practices so that people with learning disabilities and their support networks can easily find local optometrists who can facilitate accessible sight tests.”