Sight is a powerful sense; providing instant access to information to help understand the world around us. It plays a vital part in children’s play and in their development of language and social skills. 

Vision impairment creates unique challenges to learning that can only be addresed with specialist knowledge and understanding. Children and young people with vision impairment are a small but diverse population and many have different needs to their peers.

It can be overwhelming in the early stages, but there is lots of support available to help families with children who have vision impairment – you are not alone. Take your time and give yourself space to process everything, it's normal for it to take up to a year before things settle.

Understanding your child's eye condition

Over time, you and your child will build up an understanding of your child's vision impairment. With contributions from various specialist professionals, you can figure out how to make best use of any remaining vision and decide what, if any, adjustments need to be made.

It can be difficult to find out the cause of an eye condition, but it is important to know as much about your child's sight as you can. We have information to help you find out about your child's eye condition and how they can use their sight. The Scottish sensory centre also has a glossary of eye conditions written specifically for parents.

Our Information for Parents guide has information on how the eye works and details of vision and eye conditions that cause vision impairment. It also contains a large amount of guidance regarding supporting your child's growth and development.

If you'd like more information on talking to your child about their sight loss, our Tough Talks resource may help.

Who does what in eye care

You may see a number of eye care professionals, particularly when diagnosing an eye condition. Our 'Who does what in eye care? A guide for parents' resource is a glossary of the professionals who are there to support you and your child. The eye care professionals will link with the social support systems in a variety of ways.

Specialist support is vital

Our Information for Parents guide tells you about the specialist support your child should be receiving in school and at home. We believe that all children and young people with vision impairment aged from zero to 25 years must receive specialist support from a Qualified Teacher of children and young people with Vision Impairment (QTVI), as outlined in the SEND Code of Practice. QTVIs hold the mandatory qualification (MQ) in vision impairment as well as qualified teacher status.

Facts and figures

  • In a 2018 report, there were more than 25,000 children with vision impairment aged 16 and under in the UK. As many as half of these children have other disabilities.
  • Some children are at higher risk of vision impairment, including premature and very low-weight birth babies, children from the most economically deprived backgrounds and children with learning disabilties.
  • The majority of children who have vision impairment are educated in mainstream schools: around a third of children with vision impairment attend specialist schools for learners with learning or physical disabilities and two per cent attend specialist schools for learners with vision impairment.
  • It's common for a child to be the only one in their school with a vision impairment. Please get in touch with us if you'd like to find ways for your child to meet others with sight loss.

Further support

For more key information and statistics visit our Knowledge and Research Hub.

Our team of regionally based Children, Young People and Family Support Officers are here to help. If you can't find what you're looking for, or if you'd like to talk further about any of the above, please get in touch with us by emailing [email protected] or calling 0303 123 9999.