New funding for charity eyecare champions

SeeAbility eyecare champion Rebecca explains the value of eyecare to a group of people with learning disabilities

A collaboration between Vision for Life, Essilor’s Social Impact Fund, and UK charity SeeAbility will ensure thousands of people with learning disabilities have the right information and support they need to get their eyes examined and their vision corrected.

As part of SeeAbility’s Every Day in Focus programme, Vision for Life’s funding will help support seven eyecare champions – many of whom are people with lived experience of disability – in London and the North West of England,

“Globally, people with learning disabilities are 10 times more likely to have a serious sight problem than the general population,” SeeAbility stated, “but far less likely to access a sight test and the eyecare they need. With the Covid-19 pandemic having highlighted the countless inequalities faced on a daily basis by people with learning disabilities, this innovative eye care programme is needed more than ever.”

Frédéric Corbasson, executive director Vision for Life, said: “Good vision is a basic human right because seeing well is essential for our everyday wellbeing and quality of life. It enables us to learn, work, and fully interact with the world around us.  At Vision For Life, our goal is to support sustainable vision care infrastructure and programmes, and so we are committed to partnering with organisations and funding programs who bring vision care to the communities most in need. SeeAbility’s Every Day in Focus project is a unique and much needed eye care programme which supports some of the most vulnerable people in communities across the UK.”

Laura Christie, head of eyecare at SeeAbility, said: “When people with learning disabilities and autism can see well they are able to live a full, active and more connected life. There are over a million adults with learning disabilities in the UK and one in 10 has a serious sight problem. Our research suggests that as many as half may not have had a recent sight test. This funding from Vision for Life will go a long way towards helping SeeAbility achieve our ambition of eliminating avoidable sight loss in this underserved community.”

Lisa Hopkins, chief executive of SeeAbility, commented: “It’s important to us at SeeAbility that we amplify the voice of people with disabilities, as they are best placed to work alongside other people with disabilities about what’s right for them. This programme of Eye Care Champions enables us to do just that and ensures that people take care of their eyes, which ultimately enables them to live their best life.”

Grace, one of SeeAbility’s eyecare champions who has a learning disability and sight problem, said: “I feel really passionate that having a learning disability doesn’t mean you should miss out on eye care. As an eyecare champion, I talk to local learning disability groups to build up their confidence about what sight tests involve, and change attitudes towards eyecare. This is my first job and has filled me with confidence – I never dreamt that I would be standing up at conferences where I share my experiences of the reasonable adjustments that can be made in optical practices and eye clinics. I’m proud to be part of a programme which is transforming inclusion for people with learning disabilities in their communities.”