University of Edinburgh

Functional Assessment of Vision

Presented on 17 January 2013

Functional Vision Assessment - What is it?

Janis Sugden, SSC Co-ordinator

Who does it apply to?

"Individuals with low vision usually enter the comprehensive low vision care system when the results of their initial eye examination indicate that their vision cannot be corrected through typical surgical, medical, or optical treatment."
Amanda Hall Leuck in Functional Vision: A practitioner's Guide 2004: AFB

Functional vision assessment (FVA)

  • What a child or young person can see.
  • How they can see and use the vision available to them.
  • How conditions affect what they can see.

The purpose of FVA

  • Work out why a child can/can't do a particular activity?
  • Use vision-use knowledge to plan training to enhance CYP vision skills.

Factors that can affect how well a person can see.

When carrying out a FVA we should consider:

  • visual acuity
  • visual field
  • control of eye movements
  • light
  • colour
  • contrast
  • when visual need became apparent
  • severity of visual need
  • extent and use of vision at an early age
  • level of cognitive development
    Dr Karl Wall (2012)

Steps in FVA Process

  • Observation
  • Interview
  • Assessment
  • Report Writing
  • Presenting the information

Factors that can affect how well a person can see:

  • response to available vision in interacting with the environment and people around the child;
  • level and extent of motor development;
  • integrity, functioning and integration of other senses;
  • extent of any developmental delay;
  • extent of any identified additional needs

Observation as part of FVA

Aims: To examine and identify:

  • The effects of existing vision level;
  • How the child feels about their vision;
  • How the child uses their vision;
  • The child's understanding of their vision;
  • How their understanding of their vision interacts with any special needs they may have;
  • What modifications to their environment can support the maximum use of their vision.

Observation is critical

Carefully observing the child taking part in every day activities in a variety of settings is a critical part of FVA.

It is not possible for eye care professionals to spend this time in a medical setting.


PARENTS, CLASS TEACHER, and CHILD or Young Person to:

  • Find out about the child and their visual Impairment.
  • Any changes in visual functioning over time.

Assessments of Functional Vision

The assessments and methods will be determined from the information gathered to this point.

Report Writing

Checklist or a report written in text format?

Notes: These are the two methods used most frequently. The first one is time efficient and presents information clearly. The second method paints a more complete picture of the assessment process and the child's visual functioning.

Presenting Information

A verbal explanation of findings supported by a written report face-to-face when possible.

To Sum Up!

A FVA is not:

  • A diagnostic assessment
  • Treatment oriented

A FVA does:

  • Assist us to assess how vision is used in real life situations
  • To evaluate and combine information form many sources to implement strategies that will assist the child to use their functional vision in daily life.


Dr Karl Wall IOE University of London Functional Vision: A Practitioner's Guide to Evaluation and Intervention Amanda Hall Lueck AFB 2004