Registering as sight impaired
Getting in touch with your local council to register as sight impaired, or severely sight impaired, can open up a host of benefits.
What is registration?
“Registration” simply means being on your local social service’s register of people who are either severely sight impaired (blind) or sight impaired (partially sighted). It's voluntary and is completely confidential and your details won’t be shared.
How do I get registered?
Step one: getting a referral to an eye specialist
If you are having problems with your sight, visit a high street optician (an optometrist) or your GP for an initial check-up. If necessary, they will then refer you to an eye clinic for an appointment.
At your appointment in the eye clinic, an eye specialist (called an ophthalmologist) will examine the health of your eyes and your eyesight.
Step two: the ophthalmologist decides if you can be certified
Your eye specialist will measure how good you are at seeing detail at a distance (your visual acuity) and how much you can see from the side of your eye when you’re looking straight ahead (your field of vision).
Our page on the "criteria for certification" will tell you more about what the specialist will test for.
If your ophthalmologist judges that you can be certified, they will complete an official certificate with the results of your eye examination, as well as information about your circumstances.
In England and Wales this certificate is called the Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI). In Northern Ireland it’s called A655, in Scotland it’s called the CVI (Scotland) form.
Step three: registration with your local social services
After receiving a copy of your certificate, your local social services team should contact you to ask if you wish to be included on its register of blind and partially sighted people. If you say “yes” then you become registered.
If you choose not to be registered, you can still get support from social services to help you remain independent.
As of 1 April 2018, the Scottish Government introduced the new Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI) Scotland form. This replaces the BP1 form. However, the CVI form does not include children and young people under the age of 16 years.
What happens after you’re registered?
Social services should contact you to discuss carrying out a needs assessment, also known as a Social Care and Rehabilitation Assessment. The aim of this assessment is for social services to find out what help and advice you need to remain independent. For example, this could include help with everyday tasks such as cleaning and cooking, keeping in touch with friends and family, or with transport. If social services don't contact you to discuss your needs assessment, then you can contact our Sight Loss Advice Service on 0303 123 9999.
The advantages of registering
There are some very significant advantages to getting registered. Firstly, it can make life more affordable by enabling you to claim a wide range of concessions. These include a half-price TV Licence, help with NHS costs, help with your Council Tax bill, and tax allowances, leisure discounts and free public transport. Which concessions you are entitled to depends on whether you are registered as severely sight impaired or sight impaired.
Although being registered does not automatically entitle you to any particular welfare benefits, it does often make it easier for you to claim some of them. Your registration confirms your sight loss and helps as evidence in your claim.
Your local council will often give you a registration card that proves your registration status. Having this can help to prove your entitlement to concessions, including when you’re visiting places of interest.