Orthoptist

Orthoptists investigate, diagnose and manage abnormal eye movements such as squint and visual defects, including lazy eye and double vision. Treatment of these conditions aims to achieve maximum visual potential and the relief of symptoms.

The work of an orthoptist

Orthoptists are involved in many areas of care. You may work in multidisciplinary teams with ophthalmologists, optometrists, paediatricians, neurologists and other healthcare workers.

Once registered with the Health and Care Professions Council, the regulatory body, graduates may be employed in hospital eye departments, health centres and other community settings.

The work is varied and orthoptists often treat patients whose eye condition is associated with stroke, trauma, or endocrine disorders. Alternatively, they may develop their practice in paediatrics or neurosciences and research.

Opportunities also exist for extended scope practice in some areas of ophthalmology, for example in the management of patients with cataract or glaucoma.

Skills required

As well as having the right technical skills, an orthoptist needs to be able to communicate well with people of all ages, particularly children.

Training programmes

The following undergraduate full-time three-year programmes are available:

You should contact the universities directly for the latest information on entry requirements and applications should be made through Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

There may also be opportunities for clinical placements during the programmes to be based in Northern Ireland hospitals.

Career pathway

The majority of orthoptists are employed in the Health Service. Opportunities exist for career progression either in management to head orthoptist or specialist in clinical orthoptic or extended scope practice.

Professional recognition

In order to practice as an orthoptist, you must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.

The professional body is the British and Irish Orthoptic Society.

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