Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI)

Functions of the CVI

The CVI has three main functions and benefits :

  • It certifies that you are eligible to be registered with your local council as sight impaired (partially sighted) or severely sight impaired (blind).
  • It lets your local council know about your sight loss. They have a duty to contact you to offer registration and to see if you need help with day-to-day tasks.
  • The CVI records important information about the cause of your sight loss. It helps the NHS to identify any trends in certain eye conditions and helps with planning local services and budgets.

What is registration?

Registration is not just your initial certification. It is carried out by your local council rather than the hospital. The term registration is often used as shorthand to cover the whole process but there are two distinct and separate stages. You are only registered after you have completed the second stage.

Stage 1 – Certification (at the eye clinic)

When an Eye Doctor (Ophthalmologist) considers your sight loss to have reached a certain threshold, there are two categories, namely “sight impaired” (also referred to on the form as partially sighted) and “severely sight impaired” (also referred to on the form as blind).

Very few people placed in the “severely sight impaired” category ever lose their sight completely and many retain some vision.

When the Eye Doctor (Ophthalmologist) signs the form, they are “certifying that you are eligible to be registered” with your council. You will also be asked to sign the form. The Eye Doctor (Ophthalmologist) may tell you that they are registering you; however, they are only completing the CVI, the first stage of the registration process.

This certificate is then posted out from the hospital – with your signed consent – to the local authority, to your GP, to Moorfields Eye Hospital (to collate statistics) and you will also receive a copy. This copy is for your records and should be kept in a safe place.

Stage 2 – Registration (in the community)

When your council receives a copy of your CVI, someone should contact you and invite you to register as “sight impaired” or “severely sight impaired”.

Your council may have already been in touch with you, or they may contact you at some point in the future. One of the things they will do is to talk about the purpose and benefits of registration. It is up to you to decide if you want to be registered. During this call you should also be offered an assessment of your daily living and mobility needs by a trained specialist.

If you want more time to think about it, then you can also ask to be registered at a later time. It doesn’t cost anything and there are benefits to being registered (these are described later). The vast majority of people choose to be registered.

The date of registration

Your registration date is the date on which the CVI is signed by your Eye Doctor (Ophthalmologist) and the same date is taken as the date of registration by your council.

If you decide not to be registered but change your mind at a later date you should have your registration status backdated to the date the CVI was signed. The date of registration is important as it may affect your entitlement to certain concessions.

Low vision

The vast majority of people who are issued with a CVI will retain some sight. There is equipment and there are techniques to help you to make the most of the vision that you have. We strongly recommend that you have a low vision assessment, as there are plenty of things that can be achieved with the right help.

Your low vision service

Your local low vision service can provide support and further information on sight loss. The low vision service will assess and train you to use magnifying aids. Magnifiers and similar low vision equipment is available on long term loan from NHS services, including, in some areas, schemes based at local Optometrists or local societies. Low vision services across the country are organised by different organisations. For example, they may be based in your local hospital or may be provided by a local sight loss society. You can ask your Eye Doctor (Ophthalmologist) or the Eye Clinic Liaison Officer or Sight Loss Adviser (if there is one) about your nearest low vision service.

What we offer

Once you have been registered, the sensory support team from the council will send us a referral and we will contact you to invite you to attend one of our sight awareness courses and explain what other support we provide.