Vision impairment in children and young people

Sight is our most 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 developing language and social skills. Most approaches to learning take it for granted.

Vision impairment is a significant disability, creating 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 children have high levels of need.

Facts and figures

There are an estimated 40,950 children and young people up to the age of 25 with sight loss in the UK – approximately 25,870 of these are under 17.

Most blind and partially sighted children are born with their vision impairment.

At least 20 per cent have additional disabilities and/or special educational needs and a further 30 per cent have very complex needs.

Approximately two thirds of children who have vision impairment are educated in mainstream schools; some of these schools have specialist learning facilities too for learners with vision impairment. Around a third attend special schools for learners with learning or physical disabilities. Two per cent attend specialist schools for blind and partially sighted learners.

Specialist support is vital

We believe blind and partially sighted children and young people from birth 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.

Understanding your child’s eye condition

Over time you and your child will build up an understanding of the nature of your child's vision impairment. With the contributions of the various specialist professionals involved together you can identify how to make best use of any remaining vision.

It can be difficult to find out the cause of a sight problem, 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. 

Who does what in eye care

Our who does what in eye care? A guide for parents is a glossary of the professionals who are there to support to you and your child.

Related Links

We're here to help

Our Helpline is your direct line to the support, advice, and products you need to face the future with confidence. If you or someone you know has a sight problem, our specialist advice workers can help.

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