Eyesight Classifications

Swimmer smiling in the water after a race

Classification is an important tool to ensure that athletes are competing fairly with competitors with a similar level of vision, or other impairment.

There are two levels of classification: National and International Classifications.

Both follow the same rules and therefore, athletes go through exactly the same procedures at national and international level.

  • National classifications are required for competition at national events
  • International classification is required for competition at international events, including the Paralympics. The international classification supersedes national classifications.

For club meets, regional competitions or pre-national levels, classification is not required.

a male athlete holdingan Irish flag grinning on the track

It is essential that athletes receive the relevant classification prior to national/international events to ensure fairness in all competitions.

For athletes who are blind or vision impaired, there are currently nine Paralympic Sports available with VI Classification opportunities:  Athletics, Cycling, Equestrian, Football (5-a-side), Goalball, Judo, Rowing, Swimming and Triathlon.

Additional sports (non-Paralympic) may also require classification for national/international competitions, eg, VI Tennis, VI Rugby, Blind Golf.

For vision impairment, there are three official classes:

  • B1 – VA < LogMAR 2.60 (VA: No Perception of Light (NPL) – able to detect Hand Movements (HM), but unable to see distinct shapes)
  • B2 – VA between LogMAR 1.50 to 2.60, and/or, visual fields of <10° (VA Snellen: Counting Fingers to 2/60)
  • B3 – VA between LogMAR I to 1.40, and/or, visual fields of <40° (VA Snellen: 2/60 to 6/60)

Different sports may refer to each class differently, eg, Athletics: T/F11 (B1), T/F12 (B2), T/F13 (B3) or Equestrian B1- Grade IV, Profile 36 / Grade V, Profile 37a),

Unofficial classes for specific sports, eg B4 or B5 in Football, may be recognised in some countries for some sports and only consider acuity:

  • B4 – LogMAR – 0.6 to 1.0 (VA Snellen: 6/60 – 6/24)
  • B5 – LogMAR 0.6 to 0.5 (VA Snellen: 6/24 – 6/18)
  • Unclassified – better than LogMAR 0.5 (VA Snellen: > 6/18)

The Classification Status refers to if and when a review of the classification is required

  • Eg, “B2-R2024” – B2 class, review required in 2024.

Length of time between reviews is dependent on the athlete’s eye condition, eg, someone with no sight or a stable condition will have less reviews than an athlete with a degenerative vision impairment.

How do I get classified?

Classification Days are organised by Paralympics Ireland in collaboration with Vision Sports Ireland and the relevant NGB, and are held in Ireland.

For more information on classifications, please get in contact with Vision Sports Ireland via info@visionsports.ie


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