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Orthoptist: job description

Orthoptist: job description

Orthoptists diagnose and treat the vision problems and eye abnormalities of patients of all ages, checking for evidence and symptoms of disease, injury or visual defects.
Orthoptics is a relatively small, all-graduate profession.

What does an orthoptist do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Orthoptists see patients of all ages who have been referred to them by general practitioners, health visitors, consultants working in hospital eye clinics, and from eye casualty departments and community clinics.

Typical job responsibilities include:

  • gaining case histories from patients
  • observing and checking patients’ vision
  • making use of specialist equipment
  • referring patients to doctors for specialist treatment or surgery
  • treating vision problems with devices such as patches or specialist glasses
  • diagnosing sight problems and producing treatment plans
  • liaising with nursing and medical staff
  • keeping up to date with new techniques and developments
  • providing information to patients about diagnoses and required treatment
  • offering advice about lighting and magnification strategies for patients with low vision
  • running specialist clinics for issues such as glaucoma, strokes and low vision

Typical employers of orthoptists

  • The National Health Service (NHS)
  • Hospital ophthalmic departments
  • Community orthoptic services (that provide vision screening in health clinics and schools)
  • University departments
  • Private practices

Vacancies are advertised online, by careers services, in newspapers, NHS trusts vacancy lists and specialist publications.

Qualifications and training required

To qualify as an orthoptist you will need an honours degree in orthoptics from a university offering British Orthoptic Society (BOS) approved courses. Orthoptic degree students generally receive a means-tested bursary and payment of their course fees from the NHS.

Candidates normally need A levels and five good GCSE passes, including English, maths and science. Any relevant paid or voluntary work gained within a caring environment is helpful, as is experience of vision clinics. Orthoptists must be members of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) in order to practise.

Key skills for orthoptists

  • Adaptability
  • Good communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Organisational skills
  • Teamworking skills
  • Self-motivation
  • Maturity
  • Patience
  • Confidence
  • Resilience
  • Diplomatic

It is also important to possess empathy and the ability to handle emotionally volatile situations.

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