16 January 2013
SeeAbility has launched a new improved online information service dedicated to eye health care for people with learning disabilities. A new dedicated area on their website My eye care http://www.seeability.org/myeyecare has been developed by SeeAbility together with Mencap service users and stands to dramatically improve access to eye care information for people with learning disabilities.
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 six out of ten needing to wear glasses. People with severe or profound learning disabilities are the most likely to have serious sight problems.
People with learning disabilities may not be able to tell others that their sight is affected, though there may be significant impact on their quality of life. Sometimes behavioural problems can be attributed by carers and health professionals to their learning disability – when undiagnosed sight loss might in fact be the cause. Changes in behaviour may be the only way to communicate that they have problems and this behaviour is often misinterpreted by families and supporters.
SeeAbility who previously operated the Look Up website 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 culmination of this work has been to create information specific to each audience all accessible via the SeeAbility website.
A new area of the site 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.
Martin Thomas 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 http://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”.
Gordon Ilett, an independent optometrist and expert in examining patients with learning disabilities, explains, “In my opinion SeeAbility has made a real improvement to the information available on their website. This will help people with learning disabilities address their eye health needs. I was particularly impressed by the simple but effective explanation of the importance of having regular sight tests and how easy it was to use the website. The new area of the website also gives an outline of the kinds of procedures that are involved in sight tests and eye surgery so it will help to alleviate unnecessary anxiety and make it easier for optometrists to accurately test the sight of people with learning disabilities as well as helping patients understand and cooperate with follow up surgery or treatment”.
Visit the website @; http://www.seeability.org