Orthoptics in Eye Healthcare

Welcome to this site dedicated to providing you with useful information and links, whether you are a commissioner or adviser in the NHS, Local Authority, Not-for-profit or Private sector.

The advice and information is the best we can provide in a changing landscape, and recognising that there may be individual assistance needed for situations, please do contact us with any specific questions.

Orthoptics is one of the Allied Health Professional disciplines, and orthoptists are key members of the eye care team that work in hospitals, clinics and schools. They assess and manage a range of eye problems, mainly those affecting the way the eyes move (such as squint or amblyopia).

This might involve prescribing eye exercises or referral for special spectacle lenses or for eye surgery. Orthoptists use special equipment to measure the pressure inside the eye, to assess the patient's field of vision and to carry out other testing procedures.

In some clinics, orthoptists work with ophthalmologists in helping to manage conditions such as glaucoma.

Orthoptists are recognised as experts in childhood vision screening, and have a lead role in the primary screening of children aged four to five years. The majority of orthoptists in the UK are employed in the NHS.

Case study

Emma's Story – Single Vision Restored: Giving Independence Back

I felt compelled to write to you to thank you for the outstanding work that you and you colleagues carry out at the Orthoptic Clinic, King's College Hospital, London.

At my very first meeting, I was diagnosed double vision, had prisms fitted which allowed single vision for the first time in 16 months. Later, the prisms were tweaked to allow single vision. I am now have single vision for 80% of the day. This has made such a considerable difference to my life. I can walk short distances without a walking stick and, with correct head positioning, can now cross roads with confidence. I can read text clearly and feel more confident when going out – which is a considerable difference as for the last 16 months my vision has left me virtually housebound.

Of everything that has happened to me, losing my vision has been the most debilitating. We all take our sight for granted, i.e. walking, crossing roads, dog walking or going to the shops. Double vision had made simple household tasks impossiblelike pouring a kettle of boiling water, resulted in a scalded right hand. Crowded, busy areas became danger zones, too many hazards and too much disorientation. Therefore I stayed indoors, where I was safe.

In the last 16 months I fell over so many times because I haven’t been able to see kerbs, raised paving slabs and stairs. My glasses create single vision, but they have also allowed me to rebuild my life. A “new life” where I can put the past in the past and concentrate on my “new future”. This is all due to the wonderful work carried out in the department – my only regret is that I didn’t know you existed otherwise I would’ve contacted you earlier, rather than suffering in silence.

You have advised that my vision problem is complex and will take at least 6 months before any results. I know that I now have the support of your department in my rehabilitation, which after 16 months means I no longer need to live in isolation. Thank you for giving me back my life.