Learning Disability Clinic

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY1151/2020
  • Departments: Ophthalmology Department, Orthoptic
  • Last Updated: 19 December 2023


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information. Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet. It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and the healthcare team, but may act as a starting point for discussion. If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team.

What is the Learning Disability Clinic?

The Learning Disability Clinic is a specific clinic for children and young adults with learning difficulties who have, or are suspected of having an eye problem. The clinic is designed for any child/young adult who may have difficulties with general testing processes; or any child that may require a different approach to assessment and treatment due to their additional needs.

Can this impact vision and why do I need to attend appointments?

Children with learning disabilities are significantly more likely than the general population to have a vision problem. Patients with learning disabilities can have the same range of visual problems as the general population.

Children with learning disabilities may not know they have a sight problem or may not be able to communicate with anyone if they have noticed a problem.  Some types of sight loss have no obvious signs or symptoms and it is important that such sight problems are detected early through eye tests, to enable treatment.

Changes in vision are a common occurrence during childhood and adolescence and can have a significant impact on a child’s education and their ability to interact with others. The assessment is not only a check for glasses, but also about eye health and identifying sight threatening conditions which can often be treated.

What will happen at the appointment?

When you arrive, you will book in at the Eye Clinic reception desk and be given directions to the children’s waiting area.

The Orthoptist will collect you from the waiting room. They will introduce themselves and explain everything that will happen during the visit. Your child may be assessed by several health professionals that may include an:

Orthoptist – an Allied Health Professional, who has been specially trained in the assessment and treatment of visual problems, squints and related eye disorders.

Optometrist – trained in the assessment of focussing problems and will be able to advise on whether your child needs to wear glasses. The optometrist is also trained in eye health.

Ophthalmologist a doctor who is qualified and experienced to assess children for specific eye conditions.

Eye drops which make the pupil bigger (dilate) may need to be used to allow an assessment of the eyes.

We endeavour to make the visit as short as possible, but waiting times can vary, depending on who your child needs to see on the day. Please speak to a member of staff on the day if you have any concerns.

How can I help my child?

It can be helpful to prepare your child for the appointment where possible, especially as the assessment is likely to include things near the face and eyes. The healthcare team are used to adapting to the different needs of patients during an assessment so please inform us if your child has any specific likes/dislikes that may make the assessment more enjoyable for your child. If your child has any specific needs then please contact the department to discuss these prior to your child’s appointment.

What is the treatment?

The treatment required is dependent on your child’s eye condition and will be discussed with you in detail at your appointment.  Any treatment required will be discussed, taking your child’s needs into consideration and any decision will be made jointly with parents/carers in the best interests of the child/young adult. We will include your child in any discussion.

Many parents/carers are concerned that they will not be able to manage the treatment prescribed. Please do not worry. The healthcare professionals involved in the care of your child can discuss your concerns with you and help you achieve the best outcome for your child.

Are there any complications or risks?

Attending the clinic presents few risks, however if your child has previously been found to be allergic to dilating eye drops, please let us know.

We often use lights in the assessments so please let us know if this is not suitable for your child.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Orthoptic Department on: (01482) 816605.

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