Certificate of Visual Impairment (CVI) team

Providing information, advice and assistance to help you register for a Certificate of Visual Impairment.

When an individual’s sight has fallen below a particular level their consultant ophthalmologist might offer registration as sight impaired or severely sight impaired. Step one in the registration process is completion of a form known in England as the Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI) or in Wales as the CVIW. Similar systems exist in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The purpose of the CVI is to officially recognise your visual impairment, which can help you access various support services, benefits, and accommodations.

It is used as evidence to prove your eligibility for certain assistance and benefits, such as disability benefits, concessions on public transportation, and specialised education services.

There are two categories of visual impairment recognized by the CVI:

  1. Severely sight impaired: Individuals who are unable to read standard print, even with the use of glasses or contact lenses, or whose eyesight is extremely limited.

  2. Sight impaired: Individuals who have some degree of visual impairment but are not classified as severely sight impaired. They may still have some useful vision, though it may be significantly reduced.

Obtaining a CVI involves an assessment by a qualified ophthalmologist, who evaluates the individual's visual acuity and field of vision to determine their eligibility. Once issued, the CVI serves as official documentation of the individual's visual impairment status.

Our Certificate of Visual Impairment (CVI) team can provide you with information, advice and assistance to help you register for a Certificate of Visual Impairment.
Patients who have gone through the process have reported value – for some it may be a means to be put in touch with other people with similar conditions and share experiences, for others it is access to training or support for daily living.

Registering for a Certificate of Vision Impairment

Your local council has a duty to keep a register of residents who are blind or partially sighted. You do not have to have your name placed on the register unless you want to. The term registration is often used to cover the whole process, but there are two distinct and separate stages:


Stage 1- certification

When an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) considers your sight loss to have reached a certain threshold; either sight impaired or severely sight impaired, they will offer to complete a Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI) to indicate that you are eligible to be registered with your local council. You will then be asked to sign the form/certificate to complete the first stage of the registration process.


Stage 2- registration (in the community)

When the council receives a copy of your Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI), someone should contact you and invite you to register as sight impaired or severely sight impaired.They will put you in contact with your local sensory impairment department.


A short video from the RNIB about the benefits of registering for CVI.

Registering your sight loss: Nick's experience

video transcript
Nick Radford: My name is Nick Radford.
I have Retinitis Pigmentosa.
It's a genetic disorder and over the past six months or so I've noticed quite a bit
of deterioration in my eyesight which obviously was concerning so I decided to seek advice.
Richard Wormald: Mr Radford my name is Richard Wormald.
I'm an Ophthalmologist and I'm a Consultant at Moorfields Eye Hospital where I've been
since 1994.
The certification of vision impairment is making an official statement about a patient's
level of vision.
It's an extremely important process for patients who are having difficulty with their vision
because it opens the door to a wide range of services and support.
Nick Radford: When I was first informed that I could be
certified as visually impaired my - I was in my mid-teens.
My initial reaction was very negative and all I could think of was, I'm not disabled,
I'm not blind, I'm not going to put myself into that box.
It was that psychological barrier of thinking that's me admitting defeat.
Richard Wormald: I think in this case because the sight has
got so poor you're entitled to be certified as severely vision impaired.
That doesn't mean you're completely blind, far from it but according to the criteria
your sight is poor enough to entitle you to the maximum level of benefits.
Certification is not the end of the road.
It doesn't mean we can't do anything else to help.
In fact it means there's a lot more that we can do to help and this is the process that
enables it.
Nick Radford: I began to realise that whether I'm certified
or not my condition is the same but with certification come this whole heap of benefits and opportunities
and support.
As long as I don't let that sort of define me then it doesn't change anything it just
Richard Wormald: So if you're willing to go ahead shall we
consider filling in the form now?
Nick Radford: Yeah, yeah definitely.
Richard Wormald: If that sounds okay.
Nick Radford: When I went back to Moorfields and raised
my desire to get certified it was a really simple easy process.
The Specialist at Moorfields told me what the options were, what would happen.
He explained everything to me and filled out the form for me and then I took that up to
the CVI office at Moorfields and they processed it and sent it straight to the Council.
So it was relatively painless..
Richard Wormald: The services and benefits that are available
depend to some extent on the - whether you're certified as vision impaired or severe vision
They range from a number of tax benefits, concessions but most importantly really they're
about letting the local Social Services know that you have a problem with your sight and
then you'll be contacted and offered a range of options.
Nick Radford: Since I've been certified the help I've had
is access to work.
I've applied for and got a Disabled Rail Pass, a Freedom Pass.
I've been to the Low Vision Clinic to have an assessment there where I was given a magnifying
glass to help read small print.
I've also begun to apply for a Blue Badge and I've started long cane training.
I do regret that I didn't do it earlier because there is so much help on offer and you don't
need to take it all.
You don't need to take any of it but my advice would be to just try and be as objective as
I understand the emotions and the fears but they really are significantly outweighed
by the benefits.

Preventable sight loss indicator

The Public Health Outcomes Framework (Domain 4: Healthcare public health and preventing premature mortality) has the overarching objective to reduce numbers of people living with preventable ill health and people dying prematurely and has the ‘preventable sight loss’ indicator Preventable sight loss indicator E12a - E12d

The CVI is the key data source for the preventable sight loss indicator and epidemiological analysis. Where the patient (or the parent or guardian if the patient is a child) has given their consent, a copy of the form is sent to Moorfields Eye Hospital for epidemiological analysis of cases where sight loss is due to age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and any other cause. The Certifications Office is based at Moorfields Eye Hospital but operates under the auspices of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

Helpful links

Contact the CVI team



Click to call the CVI team

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists

c/o Certifications Office
Moorfields Eye Hospital
City Road