People with ID need to have regular eye exams

By Mary Codling
NHS Berkshire West, Wokingham Hospital, United Kingdom

People with intellectual disabilities (ID) were having health checks annually and when we evaluated the outcomes of these health checks we found that people with ID were not going to the opticians to have their eyes checked.

What did you do in your research?
We wanted to find out why people with ID were not going to get their eyes checked. We spoke to people with ID, their carers, parents, and professionals to find out why they were not having their eyes checked. We also invited all opticians in the area to participate in our study. We visited interested opticians and delivered training to increase their awareness about people with ID. We brought in a charitable organization called SeeAbility who specializes in eye care for people with disabilities and they worked with us and the opticians in making reasonable adjustments to the general eye testing examination alongside providing easy to read information.

What did you find out?
One of the main findings was that people with ID, their carers and parents were unaware of the benefits of eye testing having believed that their son/daughter did not need glasses as they could not read. Others felt their son/daughter would not be able to read the letters in the eye examination so felt it would have been a waste of time. For some people with ID they often relied on others to make their appointments so had little knowledge of how to do this.

What are the take-home messages?
Always evaluate any intervention delivered for people with ID not only to test the benefits and outcomes but also to look at any gaps that might exist in delivery. More often than not we deliver services without checking how viable they are. Meeting with groups of people such as carers, parents and staff is another good way to find out why things are the way they are and more often than not it is a lack of knowledge or poor communication that cause barriers to service access.

To learn more about these findings contact Mary Codling.

Full Journal Article
Codling, M. (2013). ‘Eye Know’: translating needs from annual health checks for people with learning disabilities to demand. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 41(1), 45-50.

Target 4 are four separate board games that address key important areas of well being such as nutrition, keeping safe, general health and exercise. The games are designed for professionals to educate both children and adults with ID who are unable to benefit from standard health promotion literature and resources due to their communication difficulties and lack of literacy skills. 

Heart and Lungs Game
This game is about how to keep your heart and lungs healthy and includes question cards that ask participants about diet and exercise.

Healthy Living Game
This game is suitable for children and adults and identifies key areas that have an impact on health.

Healthy Eating Game
This game covers all areas of nutrition with the aim of teaching people about diet and what to eat to in order to keep healthy.

Home Safe Game
This game is about day to day activities that people do without thinking of the implications or the safety aspects and prompts discussion on whether it is safe practice and what could be done to improve safety.