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Health, social care and medical professionals

Resources for any professional that has contact with patients who may have sight loss.

Image: Ophthalmologist at St.Helier Hospital

In the UK 2 million people are living with sight loss. Every day 250 people start to lose their sight. 340,000 are registered as sight impaired or severely sight impaired. As health and social care or medical professionals it is important that you know how to support your patients with accessible, inclusive services and awareness of issues that may act as barriers to care.

In addition, every contact matters, you may be the person who directs a patient for the first time to other services that improve their independence and well being. In the course of your work with a patient they may disclose to you other general every day difficulties that are outside of your scope of work, but using our resources you will be able to direct them to those that can provide other services to resolve their difficulties. Many patients are unaware of the general support that there is available to them through organisations such as RNIB.

Patients who find it difficult to access services, will not be central to their care plan and decisions made about their health or social care support. The resources below can enable you to support them quickly and easily.

Most local and national services for people who have sight loss can be found by searching the Sightline Directory here:

Alternatively, you or your patients can contact RNIB sight loss advisors who will be able to direct you to the support you need. 0303 123 9999 or [email protected]

Information and guidance for eye clinic staff

Accessible information and communication resources

Accessible information standard guidance for anyone who provides services and information for people with sight loss

Understanding the Accessible Information Standard

Activities of daily living and hobbies guides

Day-to-day tasks and activities can be affected by deteriorating sight. RNIB has a series of booklets and some services that can help with hints, tips, ideas and advice for many day-to-day tasks.

The links below give you information on RNIB services for independent living, and also to booklets about particular activities.

General advice and services


Talking Books




Children and Young People’s and Education

Children and young people who are sight impaired and their primary carers have some additional needs that can be supported by specialist services.

Ensuring that they have equitable access to education through services such as Book Share and advice from QTVIs means that they are less likely to be disadvantaged in class.

Emotional support and confidence building is crucial to the child and family’s well-being, growth and development.

Knowing where to start for parents of newly diagnosed children can be daunting but the resources below can be used to support them immediately.

General advice children and young people

Support for families

Support for education professionals. Including resources, information, CFVI, general education advice and training.

Education professionals – main page

Training for professionals supporting learners with visual impairments - Training page

Dementia and sight loss

Dementia is an increasing issue for our aging population. It can have a significant impact on the health of the eyes and the way someone uses their vision. Anyone working with people who have dementia would benefit from reading the information in the links below to ensure that all adaptations are made that will support their patients. Eye tests can be challenging too but regular checks are vital to prevent avoidable sight loss.

General information about dementia and sight loss

Information booklet on dementia and sight loss

ECLO services

What is an ECLO and how can they help?

Eye Care Liaison Officers (ECLOs) are professionals who support patients from the point of diagnosis and onwards. They are generally based within the hospital eye clinic. They can help the patient get answers to questions about their eye health between hospital visits by liaising with the medical team. They can provide emotional support and refer or link patients into counselling, confidence building and other services tailored to their needs. Where this is appropriate they may assist in the CVI process.

ECLOs are crucial in eye clinics to ensure that no-one faces sight loss alone.

Eye Care Liaison Officers (ECLOs)

Sightline directory to search local ECLO


Only 25% of people who are working age with sight loss are in employment. Whilst for some this is a choice for others it is either through lack of confidence or lack of opportunity. When someone is diagnosed with sight loss it is very important that they do not give up their job without first getting the right advice. In many cases, their work can be adapted to their needs. This can be through the government scheme Access to Work or just by working closely with their health and safety officer. There are laws that protect people who are working from being unfairly dismissed. When someone leaves their job we know that until society changes, they will have much greater difficulty getting another one.

Employment advisors can make sure that your patients know their rights and how to go about protecting their jobs. In some cases, it may be support around getting a job they can offer or how to retrain if your work really isn’t something that can be adapted.

Without employment support, the UK will lose the talents and skills of people just because they have sight loss.

Employment and Equality

Eye clinic staff resources

Helpline and services

All our services can be accessed via our helpline and directing patients to us will enable us to link them with the most appropriate support for their particular needs. The person does not need to be registered as sight impaired to use any of these services.

Access to all our services through the helpline 0303 123 9999 or email [email protected]

Information about the services RNIB provides

Information booklets

RNIB has a range of booklets that you can order free of charge for your practice or clinic. You can order bulk supplies if you require this through our helpline.

We also have a range of print on demand leaflets on our website such as the eye conditions A-Z.

Sight loss what we needed to know is an essential booklet for anyone at the point of diagnosis, containing information from people with lived experience of sight loss.

Patient information booklets that can be ordered free of charge in any format:

Resource guides from RNIB

Sight loss what we needed to know – information about what your patients need at diagnosis

Learning disabilities and sight loss

Adults with learning disabilities are 10 times more likely to have sight loss than average, and children are 28 times more likely. This means that any professional involved in the care and support of people with additional needs will benefit from the information below. Supporting people with the combination of sight loss and learning disabilities can be challenging but making simple adaptations can bring a significant improvement in how that person experiences the world. Always remember that everyone can have an eye test even if they cannot communicate or read. A suitably adapted eye test will give you information about what your patient can see, how well they can use their vision and what challenges they may have. This information can then be used to find ways to overcome some of the challenges and make the most of their vision. Many people with learning disabilities are reluctant to wear their spectacles and it is equally important to note that without their spectacles they may be considered visually impaired and adaptations need to be in place to mitigate for this.

General information about sight loss and learning disabilities

Information about cerebral visual impairment

Adapting care homes for people with sight loss

Healthy Eyes Training resource (for PWLD)

Top Tips for sight checks for PWLD

Tips for Optoms supporting PWLD

Communication, Environment, Identifying and Guiding top tips

Light sensitivity

People with sight loss often also have light sensitivity or photophobia. Regular sunglasses are not appropriate for these patients as much of the light that causes glare comes from above and to the side of us and therefore adequate protection is only possible with a wraparound glare shield.

The links below give you and your patients more information and guidance on how to select an appropriate glare shield.

Key points here is to note that darker is not always better, all lenses should include UV protection, you may need more than one colour or depth of tint for different activities, and always try the glare shield in the environment in which it will be used. No particular eye condition benefits from a specific colour. The choice of colour depends on the individual.

Factsheet on light sensitivity

Advice on selecting glare shields

Low vision services

A low-vision service is a network of support and provision for people with sight loss. Central to this is the low vision clinic where a low vision assessment is carried out.

A person with low vision is unable to, having difficulty doing, their activities of daily living due to their vision, even when they are wearing their most up to date spectacles or contact lenses. Patients do not need to be registered as sight impaired or severely sight impaired to benefit from low vision services. In fact there are many people whose vision is below the driving standard but far from meeting the registration criteria. The earlier a person is referred to a low vision clinic the better rather than waiting until nothing further can be done to help them from a medical perspective.

A low vision assessment is carried out by a low vision practitioner (usually an optometrist, dispensing optician or orthoptist, and sometimes a vision rehabilitation specialist). These services are commissioned locally in England and NI and nationally in Scotland and Wales.

To find your local service you can search the Sightline Directory.

The low vision assessment and low vision aids will be provided free of charge by the NHS in the local commissioned service. Low vision aids will include magnifiers, hobby and monoculars or binoculars. These will be prescribed specifically for the activities that the individual requires and patients should get this advice before considering purchasing magnifiers online. The practitioner will also discuss and/or provide electronic magnifiers (provision of these is limited to certain regions only).

The practitioner will also go through strategies for seeing too, this helps the person to make the most of their vision. These strategies include:

  • Making things bigger
  • Making things bolder
  • Improved use of lighting
  • Audio options
  • Tactile options
  • Scanning techniques

Low vision service information:

Help with low vision

Low vision and low vision services

It is important to advise those patients who would be eligible for registration as to how this can be achieved and what the benefits are. The booklet in this link explains the process and the criteria. NB there is discretion in these criteria such that some people are considered for registration under exceptional circumstances even though they do not technically meet the criteria (such as in cerebral visual impairment).

Criteria for registration as sight impaired

Sightline directory to search local ECLO

Low vision hints, tips and information booklet

Making your business accessible

Many people with sight loss experience barriers to accessing health and social care. This includes issues with communication formats, physical set up of the clinic, location of the service with respect to public transport and website accessibility (such online appointment bookings and service information). There are many other barriers not listed here. Change in the way services are delivered and administered can break those barriers. Simple changes such as knowing how to guide a person with sight loss and always ensuring information is in their preferred format can make a big difference. The resources below will help you to consider how you make your services accessible and inclusive.

How to guide people who have sight loss

How to make information accessible for your patients

Services to make your business inclusive – such as transcription services, web accessibility and much more

Employing people who have sight loss

Professionals training

RNIB provides a range of training courses, online and face to face, for professionals in health and social care. This section gives you the links to our courses. For more advice and information about the training you would like please email [email protected] or [email protected]

Health and social care skills development training

Resource centres and online shop – solutions for living

There are many practical ways a person with sight loss can adapt their home and environment to make activities of daily living easier.

Using the basic strategies of bigger, brighter, bolder, audio and tactile, there are many solutions for challenges that people face.

Our resource centres and online shop offers a range of assistive gadgets, equipment and devices. Simple changes such as talking watch for instance can make a huge difference. The pages below will give you ideas of what is available for people with sight loss, however appointments can be booked to speak with advisors in the resources centres that can talk you through options and work out what might be the best option. This would take into consideration any other additional needs that the person may have and what they might have tried before.

This does include a range of magnifiers, but again it is important to note that any person with sight loss should have a low vision assessment before they purchase magnifiers online or face to face. They are offered so that patients can order additional or replacement magnifiers, and in some cases where the waiting time for low vision services is very long they may be purchased to tide the person over until they can get professional advice.

Resource centres

Online shop

Sight loss stats

If you are planning or commissioning services knowing the key statistics around sight loss is very helpful.

We have information on the basic numbers but also a more extensive search tool that can give you information about your area call the Sight loss data tool.

Key stats from the knowledge hub

Key information and statistics on sight loss in the UK

Knowledge and Research hub

Sight loss data tool


Technology can open doors for people with or without sight loss. Many people incorrectly believe that when you have sight loss you can no longer use a computer or mobile devices. However learning to use technology is absolutely key to supporting patients with sight loss. Technology can assist in work, travel, day to day chores and in reading (and much more). Some devices have built in accessibility features and where there is a greater degree of sight loss there are software packages that can adapt their devices to their particular needs.

RNIB can advise and support patients with options, advice and training. The links below are to more information on how to get this help and what might be immediately available on their own devices.

General information about technology for people with sight loss

RNIB Technology Partnerships

Technology information booklet

Training podcasts

RNIB have a range of training podcasts that may be of help covering many topics in bite size sections. The topics range from dementia and sightloss, to sight loss and stroke, through to supporting adults with complex needs in primary eye care. A full list of titles and their links are found on the page link below

Health and Social Care Skills Development Team Podcasts

Vision Rehabilitation services

Vision rehabilitation services are based in the sensory needs team at social services. These services are aimed at keeping people with sight loss as independent as possible. They carry out detailed needs assessment, they may carry out home assessments and where required offer orientation and mobility training. They should work closely with the local low vision service and in some areas the services are integrated.

You do not need to be registered as sight impaired to use this service. Anyone who is finding difficulty with activities of daily living due to their sight would benefit. When referring to these services it is a good idea to highlight the specific issues for that individual – such as multiple falls, or injuries when cooking for example.

General information about rehabilitation

Help from social services booklet

Welfare rights / benefits

Sight loss can result in financial difficulties, particularly if it impacts your work and income. Knowing your rights in terms of your work and finance can prevent some levels of hardship.

Our team can advise on many areas and offer support in applying for some benefits and support. In addition they can assist in the appeals process too. For information about this the links below will take you through to our more detailed pages.

General information

Benefits and concessions of registration booklet