Who are the members of the eye care team?
The eyes are incredibly complex structures. As technology has advanced and as knowledge has grown, eye care has evolved over many years and now involves several professions. These separate professional groups often work together as part of the eye care team.
Orthoptists are ‘Allied Health Professionals’. We usually work in the eye departments of hospitals, although some of us work in the community, and some in private practice. In most cases, we receive referrals from ophthalmologists. A lot of our patients are children with strabismus or amblyopia (lazy eye), but we also see adults, particularly those with symptoms relating to diplopia (double vision) or focussing difficulties. Many orthoptists also work in ophthalmic technology, using the latest instuments to diagnose lots of different eye conditions, for example, assessing peripheral visual fields using the Goldmann (below) or Humphrey visual field analyser, or using A-scans and the IOL master prior to cataract surgery.
Ophthalmologists are registered medical doctors who have specialised in the medical care of eyes. They will have completed a minimum of 4 years training in ophthalmology.
Ophthalmic surgeons are registered medical doctors who have specialised in ophthalmology, and completed a minimum of 7 years training in ophthalmic surgery.
For more on ophthalmologists, see www.eyedoctors.ie.
Optometrists, also known as ophthalmic opticians, are licensed professionals trained to prescribe and fit lenses to improve vision. They also examine for signs of eye diseases, and refer accordingly.
Dispensing opticians are not entitled to prescribe spectacles; they are entitled to dispense and sell spectacles. Only dispensing opticians with a certificate of entitlement to fit contact lenses may do so. For more, see www.opticiansboard.ie