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Help with low vision

Information on the help available so you can live independently when you have low vision.

People decide to move out of their parents’ home at many different times in their life, some as teenagers, and others will venture out for the first time only in their 20s or 30s.

Living alone for the first time means you'll need to do things you perhaps relied on others for in the past. This is exciting and allows you to become more independent and confident about taking care of yourself. Low vision aids are essential for tasks like these, so have an assessment from your Local Authority Adult SEN Services before you go and talk through your lifestyle changes with your optometrist.

No matter when you go, you’ll be using a lot of the skills you practiced at home, however there are going to be times for everyone, sighted or not, where they need to ask for support. You may need to ask for support from different people in different ways, as well as finding new ways to support yourself.

Getting help at home

Magnifiers are one of the most common items that those with vision impairment use. You may find magnifiers really useful for:

  • Reading ingredients, sell by dates and cooking instructions
  • Reading information on medicine bottles
  • Looking at the dials on the microwave, cooker and washing machine.

Magnifiers can be high-tech (cameras on mobile phones, tablets and CCTV) or low-tech (monoculars and glasses from the optometrist).

Our life skills pages on cooking, mobility and money might help you think about more activities at home, how to do them independently and who to ask for help.

Our technology pages cover some of the high-tech solutions that are available to you on phones, tablets and computers, as well as how to access them.

We provide a range of visual aids for blind and partially sighted people, such as lighting, magnifiers, reading, writing and labelling equipment, talking kitchen appliances and mobility aids in our online shop.

Finding your local low vision service

After your assessment from your Local Authority SEN team, you’ll want to find your local Low Vision Service. Low vision service provision across the UK is very variable and may be based in a local hospital, located in opticians' practices or offered from a resource centre run by the local society for people with sight loss. To find out more about low vision services in your area, contact a local hospital eye department or speak to your GP, social services (the visual or sensory impairment team) or local society for people with sight loss.

If you no longer see an eye specialist, it may be useful to visit your local optometrist who can carry out an eye health check as well as help signpost you to local services.

A good low vision service will have a wide range of equipment including hand-held magnifiers in a variety of shapes and handles (including those with in-built illumination) and stand magnifiers. They can also establish which low vision aids would be most useful for you. These may include other aids, such as large-buttoned telephones, talking watches and liquid level indicators to help increase your independence in your home.

In England

Low Vision referrals in England can be made through your GP or Eye Clinic as well as by contacting your Local Authority Social Work Department and/or Local Society to arrange an appointment.

In Northern Ireland

Low Vision services in Northern Ireland form part of the hospital service. You can find out more about these services by contacting an RNIB Eye Care Liaison Officer (ECLO). An ECLO can help you link to your relevant Eye Clinic or Low Vision service. Details of your nearest ECLO can be found on the Eye Care Liaison Service RNIB Northern Ireland pages.

In Scotland

Low Vision referrals in Scotland can be made through your GP or Eye Clinic. You can contact your Local Authority Social Work Department and/or Local Society to arrange an appointment.

In Wales

The Low Vision Service in Wales is a free service which provides a range of low vision aids that may be useful to you. Equipment provided includes hand-held magnifiers, task lamps and even high-tech electronic low vision aids. The Eyecare Wales website is the best way to find out more about this service and how it operates in Wales. There are now two ways to search for services on the website. People can either search for services within two, five, 10 or 25 miles from their postcode or they can search for services by county.

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 you’d like to talk further about any of the above, then please get in touch with us by emailing [email protected] or calling us on 0303 123 9999.