Our guide to the Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI)

One of the most common questions we get asked as a charity supporting people with sight loss is: ‘What is a Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI) and how do I get one?’

We asked one of our Patient Support Officers, Gail, who works at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, to give us the answer. She has written this handy guide to CVIs.

What is a CVI and how do I get one?

A Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI) is a legal document that formally registers your sight loss and is also the medical evidence which is often asked for when applying for travel passes or benefits. Your consultant can either register you as sight impaired or severely sight impaired, depending on how you meet the criteria for a CVI (see below).

Your eye consultant is the only person who can complete a CVI form.

You must have significant sight loss in both eyes which cannot be corrected by glasses or contact lenses to qualify for a CVI.

What criteria do I need to meet to receive a CVI?

The criteria for a CVI are based upon what you can see on the eye chart (your visual acuity), and also if there is a significant loss of how much you can see from the side of your eye when you are looking straight forward (your field of vision).

The RNIB has some useful information about how your eye specialist will decide whether you meet the criteria for a CVI.

My consultant has completed a CVI, what next?

When your consultant has completed your CVI, if you live in Greater Manchester, it will be sent to Henshaws First Step CVI Service. Someone from the service will then contact you to talk you through what support is available to you, ensuring you have the information and support you need at the point of your sight loss diagnosis.

Click here for information about our First Step CVI Service

A copy will then be sent out in the post to yourself, which is your copy to keep safe. If you ever need to send a copy of your CVI for any reason, please do send a copy and not the original.

A copy will also be sent to your GP to keep in your notes, and a copy will be sent to your local council where you live, to the Adult Social Care Sensory Team. Once the Sensory Team receive your CVI, they will either ring you or send out a letter in the post asking if you would like to be added on the register of people with sight loss. The register is confidential, and your details will not be shared with anyone.

The Sensory Team will also offer to come and see you at home to discuss how your sight loss is affecting you in your daily life.

Why have a CVI?

Your CVI is your medical evidence of your sight loss. If you need to apply for travel passes, taxi vouchers, or benefits due to your sight loss, the concession or benefit provider will ask if you have a CVI, and you will need to send it along with your application.

Even if it isn’t essential to use your CVI as evidence when applying for a particular benefit or concession, it is one of the easiest pieces of evidence you can submit to prove your eligibility.

Having a CVI provides a way of accessing services which may help you live as independently as possible with your sight loss. Benefits include help with NHS costs, help with your Council Tax bill and tax allowances, leisure discounts, free public transport, and Personal Independence Payment. Think of it as your passport to lots of support that could help you to be more independent, and save money.

It is important to note: whether you are registered sight impaired or severely sight impaired will determine exactly what benefits and concessions you are entitled to. For more information on what concessions are available across Greater Manchester, please do reach out to us at Henshaws.

What happens if I lose my CVI?

If you lose your copy of your CVI, you can contact us at Henshaws, and we can locate a copy of your CVI for you either via your local Sensory Team, or your GP or your hospital notes.

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