Orthoptists investigate, diagnose and treat physical obstructions to eye movement or vision, and any abnormalities that affect the eye muscles or nerves supplying the muscles. Conditions they treat include squints, reduced or double vision, ‘lazy eye’ and other disorders that arise from injury or disease.
After they have carried out a detailed examination of the patient and a diagnosis has been made, treatment can be carried out. This may involve patching, eye exercises or recommendation for surgery. Orthoptists refer patients to other specialists when they identify vision problems caused by conditions such as brain tumours.
Much of their work is with children, but they can work with patients of all ages who have eye disorders, maxillofacial injuries, or who are undergoing rehabilitation following a stroke. Some patients may have special needs or severe learning difficulties. Orthoptists keep records of treatment plans and patients’ progress.
Their role is closely linked to that of the ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) and they also work with other medical and surgical specialists.
Orthoptists usually work 37.5 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Part-time work and job sharing may be available.
Orthoptists can be based in examination rooms in hospital ophthalmic departments, on the wards and in outpatient clinics. Some orthoptists are community-based, working in health centres, day nurseries, special schools, school clinics or mobile clinics. Many orthoptists combine hospital and community work. Others work as lecturers in universities.
Some travel may be involved.
To work as an orthoptist you should:
The majority of orthoptics are employed in the NHS but some work in private hospitals and universities. A few openings exist in the Armed Forces.
Employment opportunities are generally good, but individuals may need to consider relocating. The NHS has a clearly defined careers and promotion structure from basic grade orthoptist to head orthoptist.
British orthoptic training and qualifications are recognised in most countries; there are opportunities to work overseas.
If you would like to know anything about Orthoptist that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.
Health Professions Council (HPC)
184 Kennington Park Road
Tel: 020 7582 0866
British and Irish Orthoptic Society
Tavistock House North
Tel: 020 7387 7992