Our guide to the Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI)

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

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

What is a CVI and how do I get one?

A Certificate of Visual Impairment is a legal document which formally registers your sight loss and is also the medical evidence which is often asked for when applying for travel passes or benefits.

Your eye consultant is the only person who can complete a Certificate of Visual Impairment.

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

Criteria for a Certificate of Vision Impairment

The criteria for a CVI is 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 have some useful information about how your eye specialist will decide whether you meet the criteria for a CVI – you can read it here.

My consultant has completed a CVI, what next?

When your consultant has completed the CVI it will be given to either Henshaws Patient Support staff at the Manchester Royal Eye or Altrincham Hospital, or support services at the hospital, and it will then be processed by support services.

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?

Having a 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 you will be asked if you have a CVI; and you will be asked for a copy to be sent with your application form.

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 and free public transport – please note that which concessions you are entitled to depends on whether you are registered as severely sight impaired or sight impaired. For more information on a CVI and what concessions are available across Greater Manchester, please do contact 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 Sensory Team or via the eye hospital (as a copy of your CVI will be kept in your hospital notes).

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