Orthoptists specialise in the investigation, diagnosis and management of eye movement defects and visual problems. Our focus is on how the two eyes work in synchronisation; this is called binocular vision. Causes of eye movement problems include congenital strabismus (mis-alignment of the eyes), reduced vision in one or both eyes, or acquired defects with the muscles around the eyes caused by nerve damage in the brain hindering the communication with the eyes.
We assess patients of all ages, babies, infants, teenagers, adults, and elderly patients.
Younger patients are often referred to us because of parental concerns with a strabismus, drooping eye lid (ptosis), referrals from public health nurses, or concerns around educational tasks. Orthoptists often prescribe treatment for lazy eyes, advise on glasses, and recommend patients for strabismus surgery.
Our work with adult patients includes managing patients with double vision, visual field loss, eye movement disorders, nystagmus (shaking eyes), and many more. Many of these patients may have underlying medical conditions such as neurological conditions including stroke, multiple sclerosis, and head injuries, or Parkinson’s disease, thyroid problems or even congenital eye movement problems. We help patients to manage the visual symptoms of their condition and provide advice for the visual and general rehabilitation of these patients.
We work in both acute and community hospital settings, and some orthoptists work within the private sector. Within these settings orthoptists work within multidisciplinary teams, often including ophthalmologists, optometrists, ophthalmic nurses, and technicians.
To see an orthoptist, generally, a referral will be made to the ophthalmology department by your GP or optometrist. Children who fail to meet school screening criteria are also likely to be referred to an orthoptist by the public health nurse. Referrals can also be made directly to orthoptists by other medical professionals such as neurologists, endocrinologists, ophthalmologists, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists.
See our directory to find your nearest orthoptist.