Jo brings hidden sight loss problems to light


Springfield RNIB in Bishopbriggs provides sight tests for people with learning disabilitiies

Jo Swinson has highlighted the hidden problem of undiagnosed sight loss among disabled people.

Jo tabled a motion in Parliament today on Learning Disability and Sight Loss.

The motion:

• highlights the correlation between learning disability and sight loss, with research by RNIB Scotland finding that 80% of people with a learning disability also have some form of sight loss;

• reveals the concerning way that people with learning disabilities can be excluded from normal patterns of sight testing;

• calls for every person, particularly those with learning disabilities, to receive equal access to vision assessment and eye care.

Commenting on the Parliamentary motion, Jo said:

“There is a startlingly high occurrence of sight problems among people with learning disabilities. As many as 80% of learning disabled people experience sight problems, but only 13% have had their sight tested. These problems often go undetected, because of assumptions that a person’s disability is to blame for all the difficulties they experience.

“We are guilty of generalising about disability, while not looking hard enough for ways to help disabled people.

“The motion I have tabled today in Parliament highlights a vital area of the work of the RNIB. MPs now have the opportunity to show support for this work and back calls for equal access to sight testing for all.

“Springfield RNIB in Bishopbriggs has been at the centre of efforts to highlight the link between learning disability and sight loss. The service has performed excellent work both locally and across Scotland, carrying out sight tests on people with learning disabilities, training care workers and raising awareness of this hidden problem of undiagnosed sight loss.”

Springfield RNIB, located in Bishopbriggs, has been the centre of RNIB Scotland’s work on the correlation between learning disability and sight loss.

Welcoming news of the Early Day Motion, John Legg, Director of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), said:

“It is heartening that the eye care interests of people with learning disabilities are being highlighted at the UK level by Jo Swinson MP.

“From its base in her constituency, RNIB Scotland has carried out pioneering work in this field and revealed the scale of the challenge. The knowledge and expertise gained here is now being rolled out across the UK.

“We know that the quality of life for many people with learning disabilities can be greatly enhanced once their eye conditions are understood and treated and we hope that this initiative will be given every support from social care and health organisations across the country.”

Full text of Jo Swinson’s Early Day Motion:

LEARNING DISABILITY AND SIGHT LOSS

That this House notes with concern the correlation between learning disability and undetected sight loss; highlights findings by RNIB Scotland showing that as many as 80% of people with a learning disability also have some form of sight loss, with only 13% having had their sight tested; expresses concern that sight loss often goes undetected in people with learning disabilities because of exclusion from normal patterns of sight testing; commends the work of RNIB Scotland in raising awareness of the negative impact of undetected sight loss on people with learning disabilities; and calls for every person, particularly those with learning disabilities, to receive equal access to vision assessment and eye care.

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