Orthoptist

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Orthoptists work with a team of specialists to diagnose and treat eye problems.

Salary range: £24,214 to £43,772

How to become an orthoptist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course

University

You’ll need to get a degree in orthoptics, approved by the Health and Care Professions Council.

There’s a lot of competition for places on the orthoptics degree courses, so you’ll need to show an understanding and commitment before you apply.

You’ll find it helpful to get some paid or voluntary experience in your local orthoptic department before you apply for a course.

You could contact the head orthoptist or the voluntary services co-ordinator at your local NHS trust for further advice.

As well as a student loan, you may be able to access elements of the NHS Learning Support Fund, which can cover hardship, travel and childcare costs.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • 3 A levels, or equivalent, including at least 1 science

More information

More information

Registration

Professional and industry bodies

You could join the British and Irish Orthoptic Society, for professional development, training opportunities and to make industry contacts. Student membership is free of charge and runs until you graduate.

Further information

You can find out more about careers in this area from the British and Irish Orthoptic Society and Health Careers.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • the ability to work well with others
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • knowledge of medicine and dentistry
  • to enjoy working with other people
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Depending on where you work, your day-to-day duties may involve:

  • diagnosing squints, lazy eyes (amblyopia), reduced or double vision, and disorders due to injury or illness
  • managing conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, stroke, retinal disease and neurological disorders
  • carrying out vision tests on children
  • suggesting treatments like eye patches, eye exercises, contact lenses or low vision aids
  • referring to another specialist or a surgeon
  • working within a team of other healthcare professionals, like ophthalmologists (eye surgeons), optometrists (who prescribe and dispense glasses and lenses) and vision scientists.

Working environment

You could work in an NHS or private hospital or in the community.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could become a specialist orthoptist, working with people affected by stroke, or with children. 

You could become a head or consultant orthoptist, and manage a team or department.

You could also take further qualifications and move into research or teaching, or work in private practice and set up your own clinic.

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