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Functional vision assessment


A Functional Vision Assessment (FVA) is an observational tool. It can be used to recognise how a person with learning disabilities might be using their sight. It can give an indication of what a person might not see, or have difficulty seeing.

Adults with learning disabilities are 10 times more likely to be blind or partially sighted than the general population with an  estimated 96,500 adults with learning disabilities being blind or partially sighted. People with severe or profound learning disabilities are the most likely to have serioius sight problems.

Many people with learning disabilities may not be able to tell others if they have a sight problem. A Functional Vision Assessment can be an effective way of recognising the sight difficulties people with learning disabilities might be experiencing.

A Functional Vision Assessment is an excellent starting point for supporting someone to have potential sight problem recognised. The information gained from an assessment should be shared with the person’s optometrist and with specialist workers for the visually impaired. Doing so helps the person get the best support and advice.

The Functional Vision Assessment does not replace the need for an eye test provided by an eye care specialist such as an optometrist, or an assessment undertaken by a rehabilitation worker for the Visually Impaired.

This Functional Vision Assessment is intended to be used by supporters of people with learning disabilities who know that person well, such as family carers and support staff. We hope that this Functional Vision Assessment will also be a useful resource for eye care professionals, rehabilitation officers for the visually impaired and others engaged in the support of people with learning disabilities.

Below you can download each section of the Functional Vision Assessment by clicking on the relevant links.


Functional Vision Assessment content

Before starting an assessment download a copy of the Introduction and summary of findings. You will need these for when you complete the checklists.

Checklist 1: Appearance of the eyes – observing how the appearance of a person’s eyes may raise concerns about their eye health and potential sight problems.
Checklist 2: Behaviour – observing if a person’s behaviour may be related to poor vision or other eye care needs.
Checklist 3: Poor central vision – observing if someone may have difficulties seeing straight ahead.
Checklist 4: Poor peripheral vision – observing if someone may have difficulties seeing to their side or up and down.
Checklist 5: Sensitivity to light – observing if people may experience difficulties because their eyes are very sensitive to light.
Checklist 6: Poor colour vision (or contrast sensitivity) - observing if people might not see colours very well or may have difficulties in seeing objects clearly against a background.
Checklist 7: Poor vision in one eye – observing if people may have poor vision in one eye only.

Download the whole document here.