The second of this week’s CET articles reminds us of the importance of providing eye care to those with learning disabilities – people with a high likelihood of refractive and ocular problems.

Despite current challenges, the NHS England special schools eye care programme, set up in response to SeeAbility’s research, is gaining pace. The authors of our CET told me, ‘following a drive to recruit optometrists and opticians in north-west England at the end of last year, finally, with the end of lockdown approaching, training and planning for these clinics can proceed. We now need to create some energy to recruit both optometrists and dispensing opticians in the south and north-west London area.’ If you are interested in finding out more, please email l.donaldson@seeability.org to get involved.

This positive development is contrary to recent news stories. The Office for National Statistics produced some shocking figures showing that disabled people were disproportionately affected by the pandemic, accounting for nearly 60% of coronavirus deaths. Yet they are a low priority for vaccination.

Just as disturbing was the news that people with learning disabilities are still being given ‘do not resuscitate’ orders when hit by the pandemic, in spite of widespread condemnation of the practice last year and an urgent investigation by the care watchdog.

Healthcare is for all and there can never be an Animal Farm assumption that one particular life has any worth more than another. ‘Normal’ is a fluid, subjective myth and surely limited resources are best applied where need is greatest and will be most effective. By this argument, care of the disabled is a priority, not an assumed luxury.

That disability correlates with benefit from intervention is confirmed by Pearson’s coefficient; but this also serves to remind us of the dangers of a creeping eugenic view (check out the statistician’s beliefs and how many scientists fell for his arguments).