Orthoptists help people with eye problems such as squint or double vision.
This page has information on the role of an orthoptist with links to further information.
Orthoptists investigate, diagnose and treat defects of binocular vision and abnormalities of eye movement. For example, they may deal with:
- misalignment of the eyes (strabismus or squint)
- double vision (diplopia)
- reduced vision (amblyopia)
Treatments can include eye patches, glasses or exercises.
Some eye problems, such as double vision, may be indicators of other health problems including multiple sclerosis or tumour. You'll play an important part in spotting these serious conditions.
Most orthoptists work in the NHS. You may work in an eye hospital, hospital eye department or a community health centre. You may also visit schools, including special schools. Outside the NHS, you may work in private clinics.
As an orthoptist, you'll work with patients of all ages, for example:
- assessing the vision of babies and small children including children with special needs
- treating adults with double vision associated with diabetes, thyroid disorders or multiple sclerosis
- ensuring speedy rehabilitation of patients who have suffered stroke or brain injuries
- diagnosing and monitoring long term eye conditions such as glaucoma
- assessing patients before and after surgery for cataracts
You'll work independently or with other eye specialists such as consultant eye surgeons (ophthalmologists), optometrists and nurses. You may work in multidisciplinary teams dealing with, for example, children or stroke patients.
Want to learn more?
- Pay and conditions Expand / Collapse
Orthoptists in the NHS work standard hours, which are likely to be around 37.5 a week. You'll likely to start on a band 5 of the Agenda for Change pay rates. In a private clinic, your hours of work depend on client needs and may include evenings and weekends. Some orthoptists have to travel to clinics, health centres or schools.
- Where the role can lead Expand / Collapse
Once qualified, you're likely to join the British and Irish Orthoptists Society (BIOS). You'll have to keep their skills and knowledge up to date with annual CPD (continuing professional development). BIOS runs courses, conferences and seminars where orthoptists can exchange ideas and update their skills.
In the NHS, with experience, you could become specialist orthoptist. You could also progress to senior, head and or consultant orthoptist. As head of an orthoptics service, you would be responsible both for a team of staff and for managing a budget.
You might also choose to move into teaching orthoptics or into research.
There may be opportunities to work in a private clinic. Some orthoptists set up their own clinics, often with other eye professionals.
- Job market and vacancies Expand / Collapse
In January 2018, there were 1,441 orthoptists registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.
The British and Irish Orthoptists Society (BIOS) has a jobs section on its website.
If you're applying for a role either directly in the NHS or in an organisation that provides NHS services, you'll be asked to show how you think the NHS values apply in your everyday work. The same will be true if you are applying for a university course funded by the NHS.
- Further information Expand / Collapse