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Henry's story

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Henry's story

Down syndrome

Like many children and young people with Down syndrome Henry has problems with his eyesight as well as learning disabilities. But now, bifocal glasses are making an amazing difference.

Mum Caroline is delighted with the progress in Henry’s reading, writing and everyday skills, like doing up buttons and using IT equipment, which will help him become more independent in the future.

Tests carried out by Dr Margaret Woodhouse at Cardiff University led to Henry’s prescription for bifocals, which have been shown to help children with Down syndrome.

If vision problems are not recognised and corrected, there’s a danger that people might think a child’s learning disability is more severe than it is. People might then have lower expectations of the child than they should have, meaning the child’s learning is unnecessarily affected.”

Dr Woodhouse explains
Henry and his brother Freddie
Henry and his brother Freddie.

With funding from Action, Dr Woodhouse has worked with a group that includes 80 children with Down syndrome, to establish why bifocal glasses seem to be so beneficial.

“Our work could lead to better ways to predict which children will benefit from bifocals, along with new prescribing guidelines for specialists in eye clinics, who don’t all know how to prescribe bifocals for children,” says Dr Woodhouse, who has studied vision in children with Down syndrome for 25 years and has been awarded an OBE for her work.

Caroline hopes that the research will lead to nationwide guidelines so no child misses out. 

Henry is just like any other 12-year-old boy in that he is very active and sociable,” she says. “He loves being outside and being with his friends. Bifocal glasses have opened up his world properly.”

You can listen to Caroline talking about her hopes for Henry's future in this radio interview.

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