Funding for blindness or visual impairment

Last updated on 01 March 2022

Blindness or a visual impairment may mean that you need support or equipment to enable you to live more independently. You might find it useful to talk to your optometrist, ophthalmologist or Blind Low Vision NZ service coordinator about what help you might be able to get.

You may be able to get help for:

  • getting around
  • accessing transport
  • staying independent in your own home.

Depending on the nature and severity of your impairment, there are different sources of support that could help you. 

If your visual impairment or blindness is injury related

ACC may be able to assist you if you have a claim for an injury that affects your vision. They may fund braille equipment, glasses, appliances, counselling or training in daily activities.

Visit the ACC website for more information on the support you could receive.

Go to ACC's website (external website)

If your visual impairment or blindness is not injury related

You may be eligible for equipment funded by the Ministry of Health or Work and Income. You will need to have an assessment carried out to see if you are eligible for funding.

The assessment identifies what equipment is needed for you to be safe and independent at home and in the community, to work or study, or to look after someone who depends on you.

How do I get an assessment?

Talk to Enable New Zealand who can put you in touch with an assessor in your area.

Contact Enable New Zealand (external website)

What kind of services or support is available?

Equipment for people who are blind or have reduced vision

Learn more about Ministry of Health funded equipment, the workplace modification grant and other options.

Go to Equipment funding assistance

Prosthetic (artificial) eyes: subsidies

Visit the New Zealand Prosthetic Eye Service website for more information about government subsidies available for fitting or replacing prosthetic eyes.

Subsidies for prosthetic eyes (external website)

Supported Living Payment

The Supported Living Payment is a weekly payment to help you if you have, or are caring for someone with, a health condition, injury or disability. You may be able to get the Supported Living Payment if you are either:

  • permanently and severely restricted in your ability to work because of a health condition, injury or disability, or
  • totally blind.

Visit the Work and Income website for more information.

Go to Supported Living Payment (external website)

Spectacle subsidy for children 15 years and under

If your child has a problem with their eyesight you may be able to get the children's spectacle subsidy. 

It can help with the costs of eye tests, glasses, eye patches and/or repairs. It is available each year until your child turns 16. Over 21,000 subsidies were awarded in 2020.

How do I get the subsidy?

To be eligible for the Children's Spectacle Subsidy:

  • You or your child must have a community services card, or
  • your child must have a high use health card.

The Ministry of Health's website has more information about whether you are eligible.

Go to Children’s spectacle subsidy (external website)

How can I claim the subsidy?

Enable New Zealand manages the children’s spectacle subsidy for the Ministry of Health. If your optometrist or ophthalmologist is registered with Enable New Zealand then they will have the forms you need to fill in to claim the subsidy and will submit the claim for you.

Glasses payment (repayable loan)

If you are on a low income or benefit the Ministry of Social Development may be able to help you with the cost of eye tests and glasses.

Visit the Work and Income website to find out who can apply for the glasses payment. Note: you will have to pay back the loan.

Go to Work and Income, Glasses (external website)

Contact lens subsidy

If you have an eye condition that can’t be corrected by glasses, you may be able to get the contact lens subsidy. This is a payment to your optometrist towards the cost of contact lenses. The optometrist must have a contract with the Ministry of Health to be able to claim the contact lens subsidy.

Speak to your optometrist to see if you are eligible to claim the contact lens subsidy. 

What if I'm not eligible for government funding?

You could apply for a grant through Blind Low Vision NZ or another organisation.

Go to Grants, awards and scholarships  

Further information

Sight loss

Visit the Ministry of Health website for more information about medical problems that can cause loss of sight.

Go to Eye and vision problems (external website)

Find an optometrist for a vision assessment

Go to New Zealand Association of Optometrists (external website)

Search Firstport

Search Firstport for support groups in your area

Go to Support services