Factsheets Assessment and Registration
Information about being assessed and registered as a person who is severely sight impaired or sight impaired
‘Severely sight impaired’ is term now used to describe people whom may have previously been called blind. ‘Sight impaired’ is a term used to describe people whom may have previously been described as partially sighted.
The ‘Ophthalmic Journey’ is the name sometimes given to the process by which visual problems are picked up and dealt with. It usually works like this:
- Person becomes aware of eye problems and visits their doctor
- Doctor refers person to Consultant Ophthalmologist (eye doctor) at a hospital
- Consultant sees person and completes certificate of eligibility for registration. The person should also be referred to a Low Vision Clinic. Further information on low vision services can be found in the Look Up factsheet, Low Vision Services for People with Learning Disabilities
- Local Authority (Social Services or Social Work Department) receives copy of certificate of eligibility. A Local Authority worker visit the person and places name on register if person or their representative agrees.
Once a person is identified as having serious sight loss, it is important that they are visited to establish their most pressing needs. They should also be asked whether they want to be registered as blind – severely sight impaired or partially sighted – sight impaired.
It is the duty of the local authority to register the person. However, ophthalmologists may wrongly inform the person that they have been registered when they have completed the certificate.
It is illegal for local authorities to register people without their consent.
In some areas registration may be undertaken by telephone contact or by post. Social workers, care managers or assessment workers carry out the registration visit and initial assessment, or it may be part of the role of a rehabilitation worker for visually impaired people.
A person can be registered if an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) has completed the form CVI England and Wales, form BP1 in Scotland, or form A655 in Northern Ireland. If this form is not completed by a consultant ophthalmologist (who normally only accept referrals through the person's GP), the Local Authority is unable to register the person blind or partially sighted. This form indicates that a person's sight problem is sufficiently severe to qualify for registration.
People who are not registered
The need to be registered in order to meet the eligibility criteria can have a profound impact on services for many people with visual impairments.
People whose sight loss is caused by damage to the brain or neurological damage are not always referred for registration. However the Royal College of Ophthalmologists stresses that people should be registered - whether their sight problem is caused by an eye condition or by brain damage.
Local authorities insisting on registration to meet eligibility criteria can have an effect on people with learning disabilities.
Some people with learning disabilities have additional problems that may be overlooked when services are planned:
- people with communication difficulties
- people from different language groups or cultures
- people with mental health problems
- asylum seekers
- people from travelling communities
This could also preclude some physically frail people with learning disabilities who may need considerable preparation for an eye operation. For example, a person with cataracts and poor health may not be deemed ‘registerable’ as their eye condition is not deemed ‘permanent and substantial’. But the person may never be fit enough for surgery so it is important to consider challenging a refusal to provide a service.
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