If you have a permanent visual impairment, you may be eligible to be registered as sight impaired or severely sight impaired. Being registered often makes it easier to get practical help, and you may qualify for certain benefits. 

Registration is voluntary. The loss of sight in one eye does not qualify you for registration and your vision must be not correctable by wearing glasses.

On this page:

Why should I register?

Being registered as sight impaired (partially sighted) or severely slight impaired (blind) may entitle you to some additional support, such as:

  • free NHS sight tests
  • protection under the Equality Act 2010
  • railcards and other rail or travel concessions
  • local travel services, for example Dial-a-Ride or volunteer car services
  • free 195 Directory Enquiry Service
  • Articles for the Blind free postage service

Being registered as Severely Sight Impaired will entitle you to:

Registration as sight impaired or severely sight impaired may support claims for welfare benefits. This can include Disability Living Allowance for Children, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Attendance Allowance

Want to know more about welfare benefits you may be entitled to?

Visit our Help with benefits webpage.

How do I register?

A hospital consultant ophthalmologist must examine your eyes to register you. If you are not already attending your local eye clinic, your GP or optometrist can make a referral.

How is my registration decided?

The ophthalmologist will measure your visual acuity (how good you are at seeing detail) and your field of vision (how much you can see from the side of your eye while looking straight ahead). They will look at the combined results to decide whether you’re eligible to be registered as sight impaired or severely sight impaired.

If the ophthalmologist thinks that you are suitable for registration, they will complete a ‘Certificate of Visual Impairment’ (CVI) form (‘A655’ in Northern Ireland, ‘CVI Scotland’ form in Scotland). This form records information about your condition and completes your certification. The register is confidential and held locally, so if you move you will need to contact your local sensory support team and asked to be added to the new register.

What happens next?

After the consultant has registered you, copies of your CVI are sent to adult social services and your GP. Your hospital and your local Borough Council will be provided with a copy as well.

A member of your local sensory services team will then contact you to discuss your particular needs, and what services and benefits may be available to you.

With your permission, a copy of the CVI is sent to The Royal College of Ophthalmologists Certifications Office at Moorfields Eye Hospital, where information about eye conditions is collected and used to help to improve eye care and services in the future.

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Depending on your circumstances, you may be entitled to financial support from the government. Welfare benefits are available to help those living with macular disease, and their families, with extra costs.

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We provide free information and support to those with macular disease, along with their family and friends, to help people keep their independence.

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