Glossary and definitions

Access to Work

A scheme to help support people with disabilities who wish to gain or retain employment; and who are experiencing difficulties related to their disability. 


Accident and emergency (A&E)

A 24/7 walk-in service for patients who have or might have urgent sight-threatening problems or need emergency eye assessment and/or treatment.



Treatment of the tissues surrounding the eyeball including the eyelids, extraocular muscles, socket and tear system. 



A condition where there is absence or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. The vision is often impaired and there may also be light sensitivity and nystagmus.



This is a condition in which the sight, usually of one eye, does not reach its full potential. The problem is caused by either no visual stimulus or a poor stimulus reaching the brain for a sustained period during early childhood. It is often associated with squint or refractive error.


Biomedical Research Centre (BRC)

Conducts translational research to transform scientific breakthroughs into life-saving treatments for patients. At Moorfields we have a National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre which is dedicated to vision research.



A tactile writing system of raised “dots” used by some people with sight loss.


Care Quality Commission (CQC)

An independent regulator of health and social care in England which monitors, inspects and regulates services to make sure they meet standards of quality and safety.



A common condition in which the lens becomes progressively opaque causing loss of vision. 


Certification of Blindness or Defective Vision (BP1):

The equivalent form in Scotland to the CVI in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (see CVI).


Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI)

The form used in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to certify a patient's eligibility to be registered with their local authority, either as sight impaired (partial sight) or severely sight impaired (blind). It can only be signed by a consultant ophthalmologist.

Visit our CVI page


Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs)

Clinically-led statutory NHS bodies responsible for the planning and commissioning of health care services for their local area.


Clinical Research Facilities (CRFs)

Facilities with specialist clinical research to support staff from universities and NHS trusts to work on patient-orientated commercial and non-commercial experimental medicine studies.


Clinical Trials Unit (CTUs)

Responsible for coordinating multi-centre clinical studies. 


Commissioning for Quality and Innovation payment framework (CQUIN)

Enables commissioners to reward excellence, by linking a proportion of English healthcare providers' income to the achievement of local quality improvement goals.


Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking (CXC)

A technique which uses UV light and a photosensitizer to strengthen chemical bonds in the cornea. 


Department of Health (DH)

The Ministerial Department of the United Kingdom Government responsible for government policy on health and adult social care matters in England and oversees the English National Health Service (NHS).


Diabetic retinopathy

Damage to the blood vessels at the back of the eye caused by fluctuating blood sugar levels.


Equality Delivery System (EDS)

Helps NHS organisations improve the services they provide for their local communities and provide better working environments, free of discrimination, for those who work in the NHS, while meeting the requirements of the Equality Act 2010.


External disease and corneal

Treatments for patients and conditions related to the outside of the eyeball including the cornea, the transparent part of the eye that covers the front portion of the eye, and the sclera, the tough outer layer.


Eye bank

This procures, screens and stores donated eye tissue which is used for corneal transplantation and some glaucoma surgery.


Friends and family test (FTT)

A feedback tool that supports the fundamental principle that people who use NHS services should have the opportunity to provide feedback on their experience. It asks people if they would recommend the services they have used and offers a range of responses. 


General practitioner (GP)

A medical doctor who treats acute and chronic illnesses and provides preventive care and health education to patients.


General ophthalmology

Treating patients with general eye problems and those who might need referral to one of our more specialist services.



Conditions in which raised pressure in the eye damages the optic nerve causing loss of peripheral vision. 



The acquisition of mobility, orientation and other independent living skills in relation to children and young people born with vision impairment or who acquire it during childhood.  A qualified habilitation specialist is the lead specialist in delivering this training.  He/she is responsible for assessing the habilitation needs of the child and all aspects of the training programme. They work with the young person, their family, and other professionals, such as specially qualified teachers to ensure a joined up approach.


Information governance (IG)

The set of multi-disciplinary structures, policies, procedures, processes and controls implemented to manage information at an enterprise level, supporting an organisation's immediate and future regulatory, legal, risk, environmental and operational requirements. This guidance is designed to help health and care organisations meet the standards required to handle care information.


Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW):

A membership organisation that promotes develops and supports chartered accountants.


Key performance indicator (KPI)

A business metric used to evaluate factors that are crucial to the success of an organisation.


Local Counter Fraud Specialists (LCFS)

Aims to reduce fraud to the absolute practical minimum and put in place arrangements to hold fraud at a minimum level permanently.


Low vision assessment (LVA)

To help patients where good vision cannot be achieved with spectacles or contact lenses. 


Low Vision Leaflet (LVL)

A self-referral letter used in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The letter is usually obtained from an optometrist or optician, with which an individual experiencing sight loss can access some social care early advice and support. 


Macular degeneration

An eye condition, usually age-related, which involves deterioration of the part of the back of the eye responsible for the sharp, central vision, needed to read or drive, for example.


Medical retina

Treating patients with conditions at the back of the eye using drugs, eye injections, eye drops or lasers and including diabetic eye screening.


Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

A type of bacteria that is resistant to a number of widely used antibiotics. This means MRSA infections can be more difficult to treat than other bacterial infections.


NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA)

Manage negligence and other claims against the NHS in England on behalf of their member organisations.


National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)

Provides national guidance and advice to improve health and social care.


National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

Maintains a health research system in which the NHS supports outstanding individuals, working in world-class facilities, conducting research focused on the needs of patients and public.


National Reporting and Learning System (NRLS)

A central database of patient safety incident reports.



An involuntary eye movement, normally affecting both eyes and is usually regular and repetitive.


Ocular hypertension

Higher than normal internal eye pressure, associated with an increased risk of glaucoma.


Ocular oncology

Diagnosing and treating eye tumours.


Ocular prosthetics

Manufacturing and fitting patients with a wide range of custom-made artificial eyes.


OpenEyes (OE)

An Electronic Medical Record (EMR) application for ophthalmology, which enables clinicians to access information they need about their patients in one place.


Ophthalmic nurse

A general nursing qualification plus specialist training in eye care, assists in surgery and manages, amongst others, patients with glaucoma, cataract, low vision and other eye conditions.


Ophthalmic nurse prescriber

An ophthalmic nurse who holds an additional independent prescriber qualification to enable them to prescribe medication that may be required for an eye condition.



A medically qualified doctor, with postgraduate specialty training in medical and surgical ophthalmology, who examines, diagnoses and treats diseases of the eye; and also prescribes medicine and performs surgery. Typically works in a hospital although may also work in community settings.


Optician (dispensing optician)

Qualified to advise on, dispense and supply spectacles and low vision aids; in addition, they are able to offer advice on aspects of eye care and vision. Some dispensing opticians hold additional qualifications, enabling them to fit and dispense contact lenses.


Optometrist (ophthalmic optician)

Qualified to perform sight tests or eye examinations, gives advice on visual problems, and prescribes and dispenses spectacles, contact lenses and other visual aids. 


Optometrist independent prescriber

An optometrist who holds additional qualifications to enable them to prescribe medication that may be required for an eye condition.



Qualified to diagnose, treat and manage defects of vision, binocular vision and eye movements including strabismus in both adults and children. They work mainly within the NHS.  They have expertise in working with children and with patients who have neurological conditions including stroke and acquired brain injury. Orthoptists are involved in education with children and people with learning disabilities and following additional training, they also work in glaucoma and cataract clinics. 


Patient advice and liaison service (PALS)

Provides confidential advice and support to patients, carers and relatives to resolve concerns about care and guide patients through our services.


Personal Child Health Record

A record of a child’s development, designed to enhance communication between parents and health professionals.


Project Oriel

A project that involves Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and its research partner UCL Institute of Ophthalmology working together to improve patient experience by exploring a move from our current buildings on City Road to a preferred site in the Kings Cross area by 2028.


Qualified Teacher of Vision Impaired Children (QTVI)

QTVIs have additional training to gain the mandatory qualification in working with children with vision impairment, and can work in special and mainstream schools and colleges or within local authority vision impairment service teams in an advisory or teaching role, including working in home settings.


Quality partner (QP)

Local quality and safety experts supporting local teams to manage quality and safety locally with continuing support from the central team.


RAG system

A project management method of rating for issues or status reports, based on Red, Amber (yellow), and Green colours used in a traffic light rating system.



Treatment or treatments designed to facilitate the process of recovery from injury, illness or disease to as normal a condition as possible. Reablement is an early intervention addressing presenting needs and so is not subject to an assessment of eligibility.


Referral of Vision Impairment (RVI)

A form used in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The form is sent, with the patient's consent, by hospital eye service staff (including optometrists) to alert social services that a patient has vision impairment and would benefit from a vision impairment assessment so that they can access early support and advice.


Referral to treatment (RTT)

A pledge that gives patients the right to access services within maximum waiting times, or for the NHS to take all reasonable steps to offer a range of suitable alternative providers if this is not possible.


Refractive surgery

Procedures that correct common vision problems such as near and far sightedness and astigmatism to reduce patients’ need for spectacles or contact lenses.



Vision impairment rehabilitation is a form of reablement for people who are blind or who experience sight loss, to enable independent living. It involves specific interventions around acquiring new skills and is often accompanied by structured emotional support. Rehabilitation is time limited but not time prescribed.


Rehabilitation officer for vision impairment (also known as a rehabilitation worker)

Qualified to provide specialist assessments, rehabilitation interventions, training and advice to people with sight loss.


Retinal therapy unit

Treating patients with age-related macular degeneration, blockage of a retinal vein and eye problems related to diabetes.


Secondary care

A term used to indicate treatment by specialists to whom a patient has been referred by primary care providers. Secondary care is generally hospital-based.


Sight impaired/severely sight impaired

These terms replaced partially sighted and blind and are usually used when referring to registration or certification in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.


Sight Loss and Vision Priority Setting Partnership

A group formed to identify the unanswered questions about the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a number of different sight loss and eye conditions from the perspectives of patients/service users and eye health professionals and then prioritise those which both groups agree are the most important. The outcome of this initiative has been used to influence future research planning.


Sight test

Sight tests are primarily performed by community optometrists, to check vision (and associated problems) and determine whether or not the person needs spectacles. It is a legal requirement that whenever a sight test is performed the practitioner examines the internal and external health of the eyes. If necessary glasses, contact lenses or low vision aids may be prescribed. If any abnormalities or concerns about the health of the eye are detected, they may be managed by the optometrist or by referral for a more specialist opinion from an ophthalmologist for example.


Spectacle dispensing

Providing spectacles for adults and children to treat certain eye conditions. 


Strabismus (squint) and neuro-ophthalmology

Treating patients’ squints and vison problems related to the nervous system. 


Tertiary care

A term used for the provision of highly specialised consultative services, usually involving expert investigation or treatment. 


Trust board

The principle decision-making body for an NHS trust.


Trust management board (TMB)

The principal decision-making body below trust board level.



Treating conditions at the back of the eye which require surgery, particularly retinal detachment.