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Eye Care Services for People with Special Needs

The term “special needs” include those with Down’s syndrome, mental retardation and autism. Visual problems ranks second highest amongst the various medical problems in people with special needs. However, the visual problems are often not recognized as people with special needs often have difficulty in expressing their problems and needs.

What common eye problems do people with special needs have?

Many studies have shown that people with special needs have a higher prevalence of eye problems which may affect their daily life, study and working performance.

These eye problems include:

  • high refractive error (e.g. myopia/ short sightedness, hyperopia/ long sightedness and astigmatism),
  • strabismus,
  • nystagmus and cerebral visual impairment,
  • eye diseases (e.g. congenital cataract and glaucoma)

Other problems such as amblyopia (lazy eye), weakness in eye teaming, tracking and focusing skills are also common.


The Optometry Clinic of the School of Optometry provides special eye care services for people with special needs. The services include:

  • Assessment of visual function
  • Assessment of eye health
  • Prescription and supply of optical aids
  • Advising care givers and teachers

A typical initial consultation will last for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.


Eyedrops for dilating the pupil may be used during the eye examination. After dilation, the eyes will become sensitive to light and near vision may be blurred for approximately 4-6 hours. Please bring a pair of sunglasses or an umbrella to use to minimize discomfort.