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Visually impaired and blind children

Children with sight loss or eyesight problems might get help at nursery and school, extra teaching and equipment

Getting your child’s eyesight checked

Your child’s eyesight won’t be checked in school. You’ll need to take your child to an NHS optician to check their eyesight.

NHS eye checks are free for:

  • children under 16 years old
  • young people under 19 years old who are in full-time education

If your child needs glasses

If your child’s eyesight can be improved with glasses, the optician will give you:

  • a prescription
  • an NHS form to apply for help towards the cost of the glasses

Serious eyesight problems

If your child has a problem with their eyesight that can’t be improved with glasses, the optician will either:

  • tell you to take your child to your doctor (GP)
  • refer your child to a specialist eye clinic – usually in a hospital

Visual impairment

Eyesight problems that can’t be improved by wearing glasses or contact lenses or by having an operation are called ‘visual impairments’.

Someone with a visual impairment may have blurred or distorted sight or may not be able to see properly around the edge of their vision when they’re looking straight ahead – known as ‘reduced fields of vision’.

This is sometimes called ‘partially sighted’ or ‘vision loss’.

Some children become partially sighted following an illness or accident, while others may have been born blind or with partial sight.

Get help with your child’s education

If your child has been diagnosed with a visual impairment and you’d like to talk to someone about concerns you have or how they can get extra help with education, you can:

  • talk to your child’s teacher or head teacher
  • talk to the Specialist Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) at their school (every school and nursery has a SENCO)
  • contact the Vision Support Service

Your child may also be referred to the Specialist Teaching Service by their:

  • doctor (GP)
  • school nurse
  • health visitor
  • paediatrician or ophthalmologist

They’ll contact us if:

  • they know your child has a visual impairment
  • your child isn’t progressing at nursery or school and they think it could be because of sight problems

Assessment

A specialist teacher of the visually impaired will assess your child’s level of vision and establish how they cope with day-to-day activities at school and at home.

After the initial assessment, the specialist teacher of the visually impaired will recommend ways that your child can make the most of the vision they have and discuss these with you and your child’s nursery or school.

The specialist teacher of the visually impaired might also refer your child to a ‘habilitation’ specialist to help them develop their skills in getting around on their own and other activities in daily life.

Equipment

Children referred to the Vision Support Team, usually by the SENCO, will be assessed by a teacher of the visually impaired to determine whether they require assistive technology to aid their access to learning.

Support groups and activities

Search the Family Information Directory for local support groups and activities for your child and your family.

RNIB has a useful section for parents and carers of blind and partially sighted children

Vista services for children and young people

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