Getting diagnosed

If you think you have the beginnings of a sight problem, your first point of call is to visit your local optician to have your eyes tested. It’s not always easy to tell if you have a potential eye problem, so it is very important to have your eyes examined at least one a year.  

Alternatively if you are experiencing sight loss, which can include small black dots, painful, missing or patchy sight, then you should ask your GP to refer you to an eye specialist, known as consultant ophthalmologist, for professional medical advice. Your optician can also refer you to an ophthalmologist. 

Getting registered

If you’ve been diagnosed with a sight problem that cannot be corrected by wearing glasses or lenses, then you have the option of getting yourself registered as visually impaired. Being registered means that you can get the practical support you need and it qualifies you for concessions, plus entitlement to claiming some benefits.       

Who will I be registered with?
Being registered as visually impaired means that your details will be held by your local council social services department. With your consent they can also be passed on to Beacon Centre for the Blind. Depending on the degree of your sight loss, you will be registered as blind/severely sighted or partially sighted/sight impaired. 

How do I get registered?
The process of registration is voluntary and happens in two stages. Firstly, you need to be certified as blind or partially sighted by the consultant ophthalmologist. The consultant will decide whether you are eligible for registration by measuring how good you are at seeing details and how much you can see from side to side of your eyes when looking straight ahead. This is known as measuring your visual acuity and your field vision. Other tests may also be carried out to check your eye health. 

If you are already attending the eye clinic or hospital, your specialist can guide you through the process. Or you might prefer to discuss it with one of our volunteers at the New Cross Eye Clinic Information Desk. Alternatively you can call Beacon Centre on 01902 880111 to discuss things further.

If you do not attend the clinic, speak to your GP to refer you to the ophthalmologist. 

The second process is the registration itself with your local social services. A worker should see you within the first two weeks to ask about your needs and any support you feel would help and about being added to the register. Your social worker should also ask you if you want your details to be passed on to Beacon Centre. 

What are the benefits of being registered?

If you are registered as blind you can claim:

  • Blind person’s personal income tax allowance
  • TV licence reduction
  • Car parking concessions in any vehicle you are travelling in

If you are either blind or partially sighted you can claim:

  • Free NHS sight test
  • Disabled person’s railcard
  • Off Peak Centro Travel Pass
  • Exemption from BT Directory Enquiry charges

You may also be entitled to:

  • Concessions on leisure and recreational activities, eg reduced rate to museums or a free ticket for a person accompanying you to a cinema
  • Disability Living Allowance (if under 65) and other benefits.