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Monday, 27 June 2011

Sight care and services

You may be entitled to free National Health Service (NHS) sight tests and other vision-related services. If you are housebound, you can arrange to have a home visit from an optician or optometrist.


Opticians and optometrists carry out sight tests and fit glasses and contact lenses. They also recognise any eye problems or disease, referring cases when necessary to a hospital consultant ophthalmologist.

If you have sight loss, various aids may help you make use of your remaining vision. Low vision aids can be prescribed under the NHS through the Hospital Eye Service or privately through ophthalmic opticians. Talk to your doctor first.

If a hospital consultant ophthalmologist certifies that you are severely sight impaired/blind or sight impaired/partially sighted, you can ask to be registered with the local council. Registration as blind entitles you to certain concessions, including the Blue Badge parking scheme and a discount on your TV licence. Please note that not all local councils have a registration system.

Help from social services

Services may include:

  • social workers or rehabilitation workers to support you and your family
  • communication skills and training in getting about independently indoors or outside
  • help and advice concerning health, education, rehabilitation and employment issues
  • equipment and alterations in your home where necessary - you can get advice from an occupational therapist
  • machines for playing talking books
  • training in the use of Braille or Moon

Your local council may have a contract with a voluntary organisation to provide these services rather than providing all these services itself.

Other sources of help

Learning to get the best from restricted vision requires both professional advice and training. There are a number of organisations offering support to blind and partially sighted people - one of the biggest is the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

Telephone: 0845 766 9999

There are other organisations, sometimes specialising in one field like employment, education or sport. Please see the contacts list for details.

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