Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

MP visits SeeAbility’s new ‘Easy Eye Care Service’ scheme

SeeAbility has launched a new ‘Easy Eye Care Service’ scheme where accredited opticians are funded by the NHS to provide longer or multiple appointments, along with any adjustments that people with learning disabilities or autism may need.

The service has currently been commissioned by the NHS South East London Integrated Care Board. It is the first ICB in London to commission the service, which is supported and arranged through Primary Ophthalmic Solutions.  It is available across the South East London ICB area to people with a GP in the boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham or Southwark.

Anyone with a learning disability or autism can self-refer, be referred by a carer or family member, their GP, Hospital Eye Service, advocacy group, local learning disability team, mainstream SEND provision or community eye care clinic.

Vicky Foxcroft and Gus SiduMP for Lewisham, Deptford, Vicky Foxcroft recently visited one of the accredited opticians in Deptford high street. Optometrist Gus Sidhu showed Vicky how the practice can make adjustments and help people get used to what is involved. He demonstrated that anyone can have an eye test, and that you don’t need be able to read or say what you can see for an eye care professional to find out what support you might need with your vision.

The Shadow Minister for Disabled People also met SeeAbility’s London eye care champions, Lance Campbell and Grace McGill. Both champions spoke of how people with learning disabilities are much more likely to have sight problems, and they each had personal experiences to share on what the barriers are to having eye tests. The champions work hard to raise awareness and provide reassurance, so people know what to expect at a sight test.

Grace said: “I really enjoyed talking about the work we are doing as eye care champions to make eye care more accessible. Not many people know that people with learning disabilities, like myself, are ten times more likely to have a sight problem than other people. So having easy read information and appointments with opticians that have had additional training is really important.”

Approximately 9,000 people in South East London have a learning disability and some 21,000 are autistic. They can face significant health inequalities compared to the rest of the population and often experience poorer access to healthcare.

Lance added: “I am in my first job, and as Vicky is also Shadow Minister for Disabled People, it was great to share about how I have found my way into work as a person with a disability. I explained how I share information about eye care and how I recently have been talking to children in special schools about the world of work.

“My message is please do come and use the service – there are only a few in the country, so we really want to see more areas adopt what South East London is doing, as it is great for people with learning disabilities and autism.”

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