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Orthoptists are an Allied Health Profession (AHP).
Have you ever wondered what an Orthoptist does? Find out about our Orthoptists and the work they do here at UHDB. Whether you're a patient or you're interested in becoming an Orthoptist, here's what you need to know.
Orthoptic comes from the Greek words orthos, meaning ‘straight’, and optikos, meaning ‘relating to sight’, therefore simply ‘straight eyes’. Orthoptists assess and diagnose disorders of vision, binocular vision and ocular motility. They offer treatment and management of those conditions where appropriate.
Orthoptists are the experts in diagnosing and treating defects in eye movement and problems with how the eyes work together (binocular vision). These can be caused by issues with the muscles around the eyes or defects in the nerves enabling the brain to communicate with the eyes. As the Orthoptic profession continues to develop they have come to be recognised as the experts in a much wider variety of eye disorders.
“During a day I see patients with a wide range of conditions affecting their vision. These patients may be directly experiencing symptoms such as blurred, oscillating or double vision, or they may exhibit outward signs, such as misalignment or uncontrolled movement of the eyes or abnormal head positions. As I have been trained to offer a range of treatments in the management or correction of these conditions, I can then offer my patients eye patches, eye exercises, prisms or glasses.
“I also work with patients with neurological conditions, such as stroke, brain tumours or multiple sclerosis, as part of a wider multi professional team. I van then help my patients to manage the visual symptoms of their condition and provide advice for the visual and general rehabilitation for my patients.”
Orthoptics is a 3-4 year undergraduate degree course depending on where you study, which is currently run at Sheffield, Liverpool and Glasgow Universities. Students qualify with either a BSc or a B(Med)Sci, again depending on the University attended, and this allows them to register with the HCPC and practice as an Orthoptist. As well as being taught the required theoretical knowledge, students in Orthoptics are also required to gain extensive practical clinical experience.
Courses typically include around 30 weeks in clinical hospital and community eye service placements across the degree. Orthoptist is a title that is protected by law, and can only be used by those registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The HCPC regulate 16 health and care professions.
All Orthoptists qualify with a substantial core body of knowledge and expertise. However, the role has grown significantly and many will continue to train and study gaining an even wider knowledge base. This enables them to perform much more specialist, advanced or extended roles. Visit https://www.orthoptics.org.uk/ for more information.
“I always wanted a role where I felt that I could help people and really make a difference. Being an Allied Health Professional enables me to work with a highly specialised group of individuals providing care and support for our patients. It can be as simple as providing a child with a pair of glasses and they are then able to see, helping an adult with their diplopia (double vision) or more detailed support and advice to children and families who have severe sight loss. It’s about how we communicate and liaise with each other and external services to provide these individuals with the best possible outcome.”