Sight loss registration

If your eye doctor thinks your sight is very poor and is unlikely to improve, they will suggest you register your sight problems with your local health authority. When you register your sight with your local authority, it will be easier to access some of the help and support you need.

A female eye specialist conducting a visit with a female patient

Registering as blind or partially sighted

There are two levels of registration:

  • Severely sight impaired (blind).
  • Sight impaired (partially sighted).

What is registration?

If your sight cannot be improved by wearing glasses, you can ask your optician to refer you to a consultant ophthalmologist (your GP can also do this for you). If your sight cannot be improved medically, the consultant may tell you about registering as sight impaired. Being registered does not necessarily mean that you will lose all your sight; nine out of ten people who are registered have some useful sight.

Benefits of registration

Registering is now more important than ever, as entitlement to some benefits and support may be easier to obtain if you are registered. The likelihood is that you will need further medical evidence detailing your needs with regards to Daily Living, Mobility, Capability for Work and Work-related Activity.

Being registered can allow you to get help with home life, mobility - getting around in your community, work and any further education courses you might like to take.

The help includes:

  • Personal Independence Payments and, for adults over the age of 65, Attendance Allowance
  • Possible funding for education
  • Employment Support Allowance
  • Concessions on transport, tax credits and your television licence
  • Disabled parking permit
  • Blind Person’s Tax Credit: tax credits
  • Blind Person's Tax Allowance (also known as Blind Person's Allowance): tax free income

How do I register?

The consultant will decide whether you are eligible for registration by measuring your distance vision and your field of vision; that is, how far you can see and how much you can see from the side of your eye when you are looking straight ahead.

If you meet the criteria, the consultant will register you as sight impaired (partially sighted), or as severely sight impaired (blind) by completing the Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI). In Scotland this is a BP1 form. The form gives details of the assessment of your vision. It also gives other relevant information about your circumstances and your preferred format for correspondence.

What happens to the certification form?

You will be asked to sign the form to agree that a copy can be sent to your local council’s Social Services Department, your GP and the Department of Health. The hospital keeps a copy and you will be given a copy for yourself. Your name will be put on a list held by your Social Services Department, or in some areas, the local society for blind and partially sighted people. Social Services will carry out an assessment of needs, during which they work with you to identify what changes need to be made to your living situation to help you adjust to your sight loss. This varies from region to region, so ask your optician, GP, consultant ophthalmologist, local society or Social Services for details of how the procedure works in your area.

Why should I register?

If you are registered there is a range of benefits to which you may be entitled. Some benefits are only available to those registered as severely sight impaired (blind). This includes:

  • Free sight tests for those registered as severely sight impaired.
  • 50% reduction in TV license fee for those registered as severely sight impaired.

Other benefits that can be available include:

  • Disabled Persons Railcard (registration is 1 of a number of ways you can be eligible) and other travel concessions.
  • Welfare benefits such as Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance, depending on age and circumstances.

It is important to stress that while registration can be helpful evidence for benefits, such as Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance and Employment & Support Allowance, it is unlikely to be conclusive evidence, and the likelihood is you will need further medical evidence to support your claim. Call our Helpline and ask to speak to an Adviser about what medical evidence may be helpful to your claim on 0303 123 9999.

Can I get help before I am registered?

Usually, once you know that your eyesight cannot be improved by wearing glasses, before you are actually registered you can begin to receive help from your local Social Services team or local society for people with sight loss. Hospital eye clinics can fill in a form, Referral of Vision Impairment (RVI), with your consent, to request help from Social Services. Alternatively, you can ask your optician for a Low Vision Leaflet (LVL), which tells you where to go for help, and includes a tear-off form which you can fill in and send to Social Services yourself to ask for an assessment. The address to send it to should already have been filled in.

You can also request to see a sight loss adviser or eye clinic liaison officer to advise you on local services and support as well as the potential benefits of registering your sight loss, ask your clinician about seeing a sight loss adviser today. 

If you think your sight is deteriorating you should visit a high street optician (optometrist) or your doctor for a check up. If necessary, they can refer you to an eye clinic for an appointment with an ophthalmologist (eye specialist).

Find out more about eye examinations on RNIB's website.

For more information about:

You can also approach your local society for visually impaired people at any time. Call RNIB's Helpline on 0303 123 9999 to find out their contact details.

To find out more about the Registration process

RNIB's booklet about the Benefits of Registration

 This information gives general guidance only and is not an authoritative statement of the law.

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