Eye care professional

Key points about orthoptists

  • An orthoptist is an eye care professional who helps people with vision problems related to eye movement.
  • They most often work with children but see adults as well.
  • Orthoptists generally work alongside ophthalmologists and provide assessment, diagnosis and treatment of visual impairments such as squints, amblyopia (lazy eye) and eye movement problems.
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Orthoptists are highly skilled specialists who are experts in diagnosing and treating defects related to eye movement, the visual field (what you see) and how your eyes work together. An orthoptist may support an ophthalmologist or doctor trained in diseases of the eye.

Most of the people seen by an orthoptist are children with squints and amblyopia that might need treatment in early childhood. It’s important to diagnose and treat a squint early, because leaving it might result in permanent issues with vision. Eye movement problems and squints can also develop in later life and might result in double vision. Adults should also be assessed and might have their treatment monitored and managed by an orthoptist.

These are the main things an orthoptist can help with:

  • Strabismus (squint).
  • Amblyopia (lazy eye).
  • Double vision/ blurred vision.
  • Head position.
  • Ptosis (drooping eyelid).

An orthoptist can treat patients with patches, prisms or glasses. They can also recommend eye exercises which can be helpful for some problems.

Orthoptists usually work alongside ophthalmologists in assessing and managing people’s eye conditions and creating a treatment plan. They will check for any other eye problems and see whether surgical management is required. An orthoptist might be in a private ophthalmology practice or in a hospital or outpatient clinic.

To become an orthoptist, you need to have completed a bachelor's degree in Orthoptics. This is a 4-year course of full-time study, consisting of 3 years of undergraduate study and 1 year of Honours. Aotearoa New Zealand currently has no training facility for orthoptists. Orthoptists are recruited from overseas, most often the  UK, Europe or Australia. 

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Credits: Healthify editorial team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Sally- Anne Herring, Orthoptist, Hawke's Bay

Last reviewed:

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