Children with sight loss or eyesight problems might get help at nursery and school, extra teaching and equipment.
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.
Sections in this guide (click title to view)
- 1. Glasses and other eyesight issues
- 2. Get help with your child’s education
- 3. Support at home and in early years
- 4. Support at school
- 5. Contact us
1. Glasses and other eyesight issues
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.
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.
2. 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 special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) at their school
- contact the Visual Impairment Support Service.
Your child may also be referred to the Visual Impairment Support 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.
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.
3. Support at home and in early years
We visit babies and young visually impaired children at home to help them make the best use of the vision they have.
We loan suitable books and toys from our library.
We provide information about eye conditions and support groups.
We support visually impaired children in playgroups, early years settings and schools.
We link with other professionals including Early Years Alliance and The Mary Sheridan Centre as well as paediatricians and therapists.
We remain in close contact with parents and carers throughout their child’s education and support transitions to school. We support the child’s inclusion into the community where appropriate.
4. Support at school
We support inclusive education wherever appropriate by providing a peripatetic service across Lambeth.
We work with other professionals from educational, medical and social services to meet individual needs.
We liaise with SENCOs and class teachers to provide information on eye conditions and to suggest strategies to ensure pupils have access to the curriculum and school environment.
We assess the functional vision of pupils referred to us. We suggest strategies to help visually impaired pupils make the best use of their functional vision.
We advise on the use of low vision aids and technology to ensure access to the curriculum.
We suggest appropriate equipment to promote visual access.
We teach specialist skills such as Braille and touch typing where appropriate.
We provide individual mobility programmes to identified pupils, to develop independent travel skills such as using a cane, crossing roads safely and using public transport.
We adapt visual curriculum materials into large print, Braille and Moon.
We contribute to education, health and care plans (EHCP) and annual reviews where appropriate. We support the social and emotional well-being of our visually impaired pupils throughout their school career.
We provide in-service training for teachers and support staff on the effects of visual impairment and strategies to help.