21 June 2010
One in three people with a learning disability might also have a sight problem – but for thousands this will go undiagnosed, the country’s main sight loss charity is warning.
‘Bridge to Vision’ is a new 45-minute training DVD, produced by the Royal National Institute of Blind People in conjunction with leading expert Professor Daphne McCulloch, (Vision School, Glasgow Caledonian University). It provides an easy way for optometrists and dispensing opticians to gain an overview of this subject, whilst earning two CET points.
‘Bridge to Vision’ will help optometrists identify sight problems using different methods. For instance, half of the people in this group may also have difficulty reading the alphabet so the traditional eye-chart may not be an appropriate testing method for them. The prevalence of sight problems increases dramatically with the severity of the learning disability and with age (one report found this client-group generally experience eye problems ten years earlier than the general population).
Covering the two core competencies of Communication Skills and Visual Function, ‘Bridge to Vision’ explains the alternative testing methodologies available for this patient group as well as the key considerations for dispensing and clinical decision-making.
Several conditions – such as Down’s Syndrome and cerebral palsy – are particularly likely to cause eye problems. Carers and professionals can sometimes assume someone has diminished capabilities and behaviours that challenge – but it could be that their sight is doing more to hold them back and they can’t communicate it.
The DVD follows the entire eye-care journey, from gathering information from a client before the appointment, to what alternative tools and techniques can be used to diagnose sight problems.
RNIB has pioneered eye-health awareness for people with a learning disability. Its dedicated team offers clients a functional vision assessment prior to a clinical eye-test. It also gathers information regarding a client’s current capabilities to help the optometrist prepare for the appointment and can accompany the client there if need be.
Eye tests can also detect the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease, which people with a learning disability are more likely to develop before the age of 30. Confirming the condition is present early on can have a major impact on the success of treatment.
For those seeking an enhanced level of support and training, RNIB can deliver face-to-face training to optometrists in their locality allowing them to explore this topic further.
For more information on RNIB’s Learning Disability training programme and to order your copy of this free DVD, contact:
RNIB Visual Impairment and Learning Disability Services
Glasgow G64 1PN
E.mail – Eleanor.email@example.com
Telephone – 0141 941 1041