Orthoptists specialise in diagnosing and managing eye conditions, in a wide age range of patients, that largely affect eye movements, visual development or the way the eyes work together.
Training and qualifications required
You need to study for an approved degree (BSc) in orthoptics which take three or four years. To get onto an orthoptics degree course you'll need two or three A levels (or equivalent), including a science, along with five GCSEs (grades A-C), including English language, maths and science. However, each institution sets its own entry requirements so it’s important to check carefully.
Expected working hours and salary range
Orthoptists in the NHS work standard hours, which are likely to be around 37.5 a week. You will usually start on 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.
Desirable skills and values
You'll need to be caring and understanding, able to work with adults or children, interested in science and caring and dedicated. They also need good communication skills, an ability to explain treatment to patients, good observation skills and an attention to detail.
In the NHS, with experience, you could become specialist orthoptist. You could also progress to senior or head 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.