The British & Irish Orthoptic Society

Founded in 1937 (we celebrate our 80th Anniversary in 2017), BIOS is a professional and educational body for the UK and Republic of Ireland, representing Orthoptists. A registered charity and company limited by guarantee, members mostly live and work in the British Isles.

There are around 1500 Orthoptists in the British Isles; its all-graduate workforce comes from three universities, Glasgow Caledonian, Liverpool and Sheffield. They provide Orthoptists for all four UK countries and the Republic of Ireland. Most orthoptists work in the NHS.

Orthoptists deal with patients of all ages from premature babies who need assessment, to the elderly with double vision due to age-related macular degeneration, or who may have visual difficulties after a stroke.

BIOS is affiliated to the Allied Health Professionals Federation, a group made up of 12 bodies representing more than 130,000 workers in the UK.


Orthoptists are one of the Allied Health Professions and are key members of the eye care team that work 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 spectacle lenses or 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. Regulated by the HCPC, 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.

What is an orthoptist, ophthalmologist and optometrist?
They are all professionally trained people who treat those with ophthalmic or eye problems.

Orthoptists diagnose and treat defects of vision and abnormalities of eye movement and now all have a first degree on entering the profession. They are usually part of a hospital team looking after people with eye problems especially those related to binocular vision, amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (squint).

Ophthalmologists are medically trained and have specialist training in matters relating to the human eye. They examine, diagnose and treat diseases and injuries of the eye. They can prescribe a wide range of medicines, perform eye surgery and typically work in the Hospital Eye Service.

Optometrists examine eyes, give advice on visual problems and prescribe and fit glasses or contact lenses. They are usually employed in the high street but may also work in the Hospital Eye Service.