For Families and Carers : Vision


People with Down’s syndrome are more likely to have problems with their eyesight. Even if they wear glasses the quality of their vision will be impaired (poor visual acuity – see below). This is why children and adults should have regular eye checks. The UK Down’s Syndrome Medical Interest Group suggest the following basic minimum eye checks for babies and children with Down’s syndrome:

  • Birth to 6 weeks – Newborn routine check including congenital cataract check
  • Age 18 to 24 months – Formal eye and vision examination including check for squint, and refraction for long or short sight
  • Age 4 years – Formal eye and vision examination including check for squint. Refraction and assessment of near and distant vision and visual acuity
  • School age – Repeat vision test every 2 years, or more frequently if recommended by optometrist or ophthalmologist

Teenagers and adults with Down’s syndrome should  have a full assessment by an optician/optometrist every 2 years. Anyone with Down’s syndrome (age 14 years and over) is entitled to a free annual health check with their GP. Vision should be discussed as part of the annual health check.

DSA Resources

Children Vision cover

Children Vision Eye Tests and Glasses: Download this booklet here.

Other Resources

 SEN logo 2015

The article Seeing the World Differently was published in SEN Magazine Issue 81 March/April 2016. In the article Stuart Mills from the Down’s Syndrome Association, explains how vision impairments can affect children with Down’s syndrome. Download the article here.

Visual Acuity – Think BIG Think BOLD

Up to 50% of people with Downs Syndrome will need to wear glasses, but even when glasses are worn, 100% of people with Down’s syndrome have poorer visual acuity than other people.  Visual Acuity is still poor even when a person with Down’s syndrome is wearing correctly fitted glasses for either long or short sight.

People with Down’s syndrome see the world differently – their world lacks fine details and sharp contracts.  In order to compensate for the poorer visual acuity we can make the world around them BIG and bold.

Big and Bold printed materials and images will help – people with Down’s syndrome are visual learners so to help them succeed make sure they can see things. It is very important to take their poorer visual acuity into account in all learning environments.

Please share this information with your child’s school, and if your son/daughter is an adult, their support workers. Make all those who are involved in your child’s life aware of the poorer visual acuity in people with Down’s syndrome.  Encourage them to make simple changes to think BIG and bold.

DSA Resources

Other Resources

Easy read information for people with Down’s syndrome 

Eyes and sight (DSA) – you can download a booklet at this link for adults with Down’s syndrome called ‘People with Down’s syndrome – Looking after your eyes’

A parent support group has made a booklet for children called My Glasses

Delivering an equal right to sight

The cover of SeeAbility's report - Delivering an equal right to sightIn July 2016 SeeAbility launched a report and a parliamentary petition calling for for national pathways of eye care for people with learning disabilities, including for children in special schools, and for all working age adults with learning disabilities to be eligible for NHS funded sight tests.

Sign the petition.

Read the report:

Delivering an equal right to sight

There is also an easy-read report.

An Equal Right to Sight

Article by Donna O’Brien, Policy and Public Affairs Officer, SeeAbility. Published in the DSA Journal 136 Autumn/Winter 2017.

Download here.

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