Understanding sight

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 addressed 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.

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. It’s a big resource, so you may need to break it down into stages.

Adjusting can be overwhelming in the early stages, but there’s lots of support available to help families with children who have eye conditions – 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.

Our six-week Parent Pathways course ties in with the Information for Parents guide, helping you understand what you need to know in weekly 90-minute sessions. You’ll have time to reflect between each session, and we’ve outlined the basics below so you can get an idea of what we’ll be talking about before signing up.


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.

Getting the support you need

The support systems are usually separated into health, social and education services: 

  • Health is the GP and hospitals

  • Social is the Council’s Children’s Sensory Services

  • Education is nursery, school, college or university, and the Council’s Sensory Services.

The health services will put you in touch with support from the other two services, and all three services should be supporting your family from then on. You and your child decide whether or not to take the support that is being offered to you.

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

Having an eye condition or supporting someone who has one can be difficult emotionally at times. We have lots of emotional support information and you can always get in touch with us if you’d prefer to talk.

Eye health services

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' page is a glossary of the professionals who are there to support you and your child. We also have an Eye Clinic Appointment Guide for Parents.

The Eye Health section of our website may also be useful to you if you have any specific questions or want to know more about eye conditions, certification and registration, and good eye health practice.

Social services

Your county council or unitary authority provides a Sensory Support Service that will come to see you at home to support your family with child development and teaching or learning new skills. They’ll cover:

  • Play and skill development

  • Mobility around the house and local area

  • Specialist equipment and adaptations at home

  • Accessing benefits and specialist provision.

Each council has a Local Offer website where you can find out about the support available to you locally. The council will sometimes be called the Local Authority (LA) and you’ll be able to find them along with other local organisations using the Sightline Directory.

Education services

All children and young people with vision impairment aged 0-25 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 work for the LA and hold the mandatory qualification (MQ) in vision impairment as well as qualified teacher status. They'll come into school occasionally to support your child's teachers in making education accessible and you should see them at least once a year.

Meeting other families

We run Shape and Share activities for those aged 0-25 with vision impairments and their families, with a new programme of events every three months. It’s a great way to meet other families and make some friends. Find out what we’ve got planned and sign up here.

We also have a Parents’ and Carers’ Facebook group where you can ask others for advice and guidance, share stories and learn about opportunities available to you. Find out more about our social networks.

Further support

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.