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To summarise the results of visual performance tests and other data of institutionalised people with intellectual disability referred to a visual advisory centre (VAC) between 1993 and 2003, and to determine trends in these data.A retrospective medical record review was undertaken of 6220 consecutive people examined ophthalmologically according to a standard protocol by one VAC that specialised in visual assessment and treatment of people with intellectual disability, between 1993 and 2003. χ2 test for linear trend was used and linear regression coefficients were calculated.The proportion of people aged ≥50 years increased from 19.3% to 34.2% between 1995 and 2003 (p<0.001); the combined figure of severe or profound intellectual disability decreased from 80.0% to 52.6% (p<0.001); the proportion of mobile people increased from 52.1% to 98.0% (p<0.001); the combined proportion of people with visual impairment or blindness decreased from 70.9% to 22.9% (p<0.001), and that of people with visual disorders decreased from 89.6% to 75.3% (p<0.001). Causes of intellectual disability were identified in 58.4% people; 20.8% had Down’s syndrome.Many ocular diagnoses were found, indicating the need for ophthalmological monitoring. Specialised centres are helpful, because assessment and treatment of people with intellectual disability is complicated and time consuming. Protocols for efficient referral will have to be developed. A major task lies ahead to improve the treatment rates of refractive errors, cataract and strabismus, and to find specific causes of intellectual disability.