Special Olympics Germany is the German association of the largest global movement to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual and multiple disabilities. We offered all participants ophthalmological screening during the event in Offenburg, Baden-Württemberg, in 2017 as part of the health programme “Open Eyes – Better Vision”.
A team of optometrists took medical histories, examined refraction status, visual acuity, colour vision and orthoptic status. Four experienced physicians in training and specialists from the Eye Centre, University of Freiburg, performed slit-lamp examinations, funduscopy and eye pressure measurements. Dilated funduscopy and OCT were also performed, as necessary.
In total, we screened 166 persons (48% female = 80; 52% male = 86). The cover test was abnormal in about 45% (distant) and 47% (near) of patients, respectively. Six and 11% of patients, respectively, complained of double vision (9/156; 17/156; distant and near). Reduced colour vision with nine of nine tables (Colour Vision Testing Made Easy by Waggoner) was recorded in 8% of patients (11/143). We saw fundus abnormalities in 13% of patients (16/125). 41% of patients (48/118) needed a prescription of new glasses. 29% of patients (45/157) were hypersensitive to light. 10% of patients (16/160) had never been examined by an ophthalmologist. In 4% of patients (7/166) we recommended urgent consultation of an ophthalmologist (e.g. in case of corneal hydrops or elevated intraocular pressure). We discussed possible treatment (mainly dry eye) in 40% (66/166).
People with intellectual disabilities do not necessarily and directly complain about new vision problems or general problems with the eyes. In addition, there may be limited access to ophthalmological care compared to people without mental disabilities. Due to the four percent of diagnoses requiring treatment and 53% of participants who do not have current refraction compensation, ophthalmological monitoring of the Special Olympics eye program “Opening Eyes – Better Vision” seems to be an efficient mean for improving healthcare in this vulnerable group.

Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York.