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CVI – Certificate of Vision Impairment

The Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI) form is for use by the patient or representative, consultant ophthalmologist and hospital eye clinic staff. It formally certifies someone as visually impaired, and also acts as a referral for a social care assessment if the individual is not yet known to social services. Its secondary purpose is to record data to be used for research into the underlying causes and the effects of visual impairment.

The College believes that an important component of good clinical care by ophthalmologists is the offer of a Certificate of Vision Impairment to eligible patients and encourages its members to promote the uptake of the CVI amongst patients who are likely to benefit from it and to facilitate the process of registration as far as it is in their power to do so.

Working in partnership with The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, RNIB and others, The Department of Health (England) has updated the Certificate of Vision Impairment and revised the Explanatory Notes.

Key objectives have been:

  • To simplify the form, collecting only essential information
  • To make it easier and quicker for ophthalmologists and eye clinic staff to complete
  • To have a single CVI form for both adults and children
  • To provide better information to patients and their carers about sources of support

For England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it has been acknowledged that the previous ‘work test’ is no longer relevant or appropriate, and the criteria for certification, based on visual acuity and visual field have been clarified in the Explanatory Notes, emphasising importantly that these are for guidance only. This allows consultant ophthalmologists flexibility in their professional judgement whether to certify a person as sight impaired or severely sight impaired. The Notes also explicitly remind doctors of their duty to take action where patients continue to drive when they are not safe to do so.

The College encourages all ophthalmologists to familiarise themselves and their teams with the revised guidance, to use only the updated form and to destroy stocks of the old form.

CVI Certificate England
CVI Certificate Scotland

Ophthalmologists in England should also view the Department of Health England Guidance documents on the completion of the Certificate of Vision Impairment.

CVI information poster for display in eye clinics

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists and the RNIB have developed a CVI Information Poster Template for Clinics.  It provides empowerment to the patient to ask for more information about certification, registration and support services. The  Where there is no existing service, it can be used to provide contact information for local support services.

Before displaying the poster, it is important to highlight the poster to all eye clinic staff and ensure they know and understand the low vision pathway/procedure in your hospital. This will allow efficient direction or engagement with patients.The empty box on the poster can be used to provide details (name and telephone) of the Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) or patient support officer if they are available in your eye clinic. Details of the local visual impairment rehabilitation team or voluntary society could also be inserted in this box. It is recommended that you make contact with this team prior to displaying their details out of courtesy. CVI Clinic Poster Information

Videos explain the benefits of CVI

The RNIB have produced two videos, which can be found on youtube.

Ophthalmologist Film –

Patient Film –

Other related documents

Sight loss: What we needed to know

Difference between Certification and Registration

Making certification and registration consistent in England: RNIB poster

Related links:

CVI Guidance Notes from the DH England

Department of Health CVI Information

Eye Clinic Liaison Officers

CVI and preventable sight loss indicator

RNIB Information on Registration

Public Health Outcomes Framework data tool indicator 4.12 is under the section for Healthcare and premature mortality. This Framework, assesses how many people are certified as sight impaired (partially sighted) or severely sight impaired (blind) and have lost their sight from one of the three major causes of preventable sight loss: glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.