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A clearer view for children with Down's Syndrome

Improving educational opportunities and eye care for children with Down’s syndrome.

Down's Syndrome Vision Research Unit

A 20-year study by our researchers gathered evidence on the vision of children and young adults with Down's syndrome and produced recommendations adopted in the UK and abroad.

...He took to the bifocals straight away and hasn't put his old glasses back on since wearing them. [He is] steadier on his feet, has better communication and attention when looking at flash cards and so on

The mother of Ethan (aged 3) Regular attendee of the Special Assessment Clinic

Improving vision and learning

Our researchers collected data on the visual deficits of 250 children and young adults with Down's syndrome – the largest cohort of its kind in the world. The unique study allowed the team to discover causes of poor vision in children with Down's syndrome.

Led by Dr Margaret Woodhouse, the team showed refractive errors occurred more frequently in the cohort group. The data showed three-quarters of the cohort group typically had an inability to focus, even when spectacles were worn, but the team discovered bifocal spectacles worked well for children with Down's syndrome. The introduction of 'big, bold' lines on textbook pages led to improved classroom performance.

Getting it right

Historically, it was thought that children with Down's syndrome struggled to write because of poor motor skills. The teams research proved this actually stemmed from poor vision, and could quickly provide practical support.

Seeing the big picture

The research has led to new Department of Health guidelines for the recognition and practical management of common visual problems in children with Down's syndrome, with eye care specialists now recommending bifocals.

Children with Down's syndrome are now also benefiting from improved learning and educational opportunities.

Meet our experts

Dr Margaret Woodhouse

Dr Margaret Woodhouse

Senior Lecturer, Head of the Down’s Syndrome Vision Research Unit

+44 29208 76522

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