Orthoptics is the study of sight and coordination in the eyes.

Orthoptists are allied healthcare professionals and are part of the wider ophthalmology healthcare team, working with your ophthalmologist to provide expert knowledge on a range of eye movement disorders and children’s visual development. 

What does an orthoptist do?

The orthoptics service diagnoses and manages patients of all ages in a variety of clinical settings, including in hospital, community clinics and schools, and may work either independently or as part of a multi-professional and/or multidisciplinary team.

Orthoptists provide expert knowledge to various specialties across the trust, playing an active role in improving patients’ health and wellbeing.

Orthoptists investigate, diagnose, monitor and manage eye symptoms in adults related to eye misalignment and near focusing problems, such as squint and problems with using the eyes together. 

They also provide specialist diagnostics for neurological visual field assessment

Orthoptists investigate, diagnose, monitor and manage visual disorders in children that are related to eye development. These include lazy eye (amblyopia), wobbly eyes (nystagmus) and eye misalignment assessment and management.

Babies who have low birth weight or are premature are more likely to have vision and eye coordination problems.

Orthoptists evaluate whether a baby’s vision is at the level expected for their age and also screen for signs of eye control weakness such as squint or wobbly eyes; and whether the baby is using his/her eyes as a pair (binocular vision).

Specialist orthoptic care

Orthoptists also play a vital role in the care of patients with the following conditions:

Orthoptists assist with diagnosing and supporting you if you have an eye condition related to stroke, MS or Parkinson’s disease.

They can help monitor your eye condition and liaise with the relevant members of your medical team within the hospital, as well as linking with your optometrist to offer advice where needed. 

Orthoptists also help to advise on support available outside of the hospital setting, such as occupational therapists and visual impairment teams who can work with you to support your daily life.

Orthoptists support patients with stable, long-term conditions such as glaucoma and diabetes. 

Your orthoptist will assess your eyes and talk to you about your care and current medication, and help form a management plan.

Orthoptists support the glaucoma service by providing new patient screening, monitoring patients whose condition is stable, giving advice on treatment options and guidance on putting eye drops in at home. 

The specialist orthoptists work closely with the glaucoma consultant to ensure you receive the best quality of eye care, and will continue to care for you throughout your visits to the hospital.

Thyroid eye disease, also known as Graves disease, causes the muscles and soft tissues within the eye socket to swell. The swelling pushes the eyeball forward and restricts the eye from moving normally and causes various other eye symptoms.

Patients who are undergoing treatment for this condition require regular assessments to ensure their treatment is effective.

Orthoptists carry out assessment to ensure the swelling does not affect the optic nerve function and monitor the condition by checking the function of each muscle.

They also advise and manage any double vision the condition may have caused.

Patients with injuries around the eye socket(s) may have symptoms such as double vision and/or abnormal eye movements. 

Orthoptic assessment provides important information to the maxillofacial team, enabling them to manage the injury. 

They also advise and help manage any visual symptoms throughout the recovery period (with or without surgical intervention).