You think your child is vision impaired - steps to a diagnosis

If you think your child is vision impaired, follow these steps to reach a diagnosis.

Talk to your GP about your concerns. You might get referred to your GP by your child’s optician.

The GP will examine your child and refer you to a specialist eye doctor (ophthalmologist) at a hospital if necessary. Your GP will either book the appointment for you or tell you how to book.

It’s important that you go to the appointment with the eye specialist. If you can’t make it, phone the hospital and book a new appointment.

The eye specialist will ask you about your child’s symptoms and may do some tests to understand more about your child's eye condition. The appointment may last up to 2 to 3 hours.

Once the tests are back the eye specialist will tell you:

  • how much your child is able to see or if your child is blind
  • what condition causes your child’s vision impairment
  • if and how the condition can be treated
  • if the condition might get worse over time
  • what the plan for treatment is
  • how the condition might affect your child’s development
  • what other appointments your child has to attend

You can ask the eye specialist any question during the appointment, for example:

  • Can you explain the condition my child has in simple language?
  • How is the condition treated?
  • Will the condition get worse or better over time?
  • If the condition gets worse, will treatment change?
  • Is the condition worse in certain situations, for example, different lights?
  • Who can I talk to if I have questions once I get home?

Ask the specialist if your child is eligible to get a Certificate of Visual Impairment (CVI). This is an official document that says your child has vision problems. You will need it when you, for example, apply for certain benefits or to help get the support your child may need at school.

If your child has been sent for electrodiagnostic tests, you may be booked in for a follow-up appointment within three months.

Your child might need further follow-up appointments with the eye specialist, this will depend on their condition. They will let you know at the appointment. Make sure you bring any glasses your child has been prescribed for any follow-up appointments.

You may have to take your child to regular check-ups to monitor if their condition has improved or got worse. How often you have to go for these check-ups and who you will see depends on your child’s condition.

The eye expert will tell you about check-ups when they explain your child’s treatment plan at the diagnosis appointment.

RSBC can help you with:

  • practical advice about your child’s development
  • support when you feel overwhelmed
  • understanding your child’s vision impairment better
  • living as a family and being supportive of each other

Call 020 3198 0225 or email


The Royal National Institute of Blind People has a list of eye conditions that can cause visual impairment.

Moorfields Eye Hospital explains how the eye works.


Published: October 2017

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