In Summary - Orthoptist
The Work - Orthoptist
Orthoptists are specialists with training that enables them to assess, diagnose and treat squints, amblyopia and abnormalities of binocular vision. Orthoptic treatment aims to maximise vision and relieve symptoms e.g. double vision. Orthoptists work with ophthalmologists and optometrists and are part of the eye care team.
Orthoptists diagnose and treat visual impairments (such as squints and double vision) and abnormal eye movements. The earlier such defects are detected the better the chances of remedying them completely.
Approximately 5% of children have visual problems that require investigation and treatment by an Orthoptist. Visual development can be assessed from birth and abnormalities are often diagnosed early. A detailed assessment of the patient's signs and symptoms, measurements of vision, eye position and eye movement is essential to decide upon appropriate treatment plans.
Patients (adults and children) may present with visual symptoms that are a result of general pathology. Most of these patients will have an abnormality of movement of one or both eyes and testing by the orthoptist will help diagnose the condition.
Diagnosis is made by charting eye movements through observation or with the aid of instruments. Some of the equipment used by orthoptists is highly complex and computerised. Orthoptists must also be aware of medical conditions, such as brain tumours, that may give rise to visual problems.
Treatment by the orthoptist may include 'patching' one eye to encourage the other to function properly, devising exercises to assist the development of binocular vision or recommending a surgical operation.
Orthoptists are also involved in the assessment for glasses and in the assessment of patients with glaucoma and cataracts.
If surgery is recommended, the orthoptist works closely with the ophthalmologist, or specialist eye doctor, providing the necessary details to carry out the operation successfully. After surgery, the orthoptist continues to monitor the patient's progress.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Examine patients with problems related to ocular motility, binocular vision, amblyopia, or strabismus.
- Evaluate, diagnose, or treat disorders of the visual system with an emphasis on binocular vision or abnormal eye movements.
- Perform diagnostic tests or measurements such as motor testing, visual acuity testing, lensometry, retinoscopy, and color vision testing.
- Develop non-surgical treatment plans for patients with conditions such as strabismus, nystagmus, and other visual disorders.
- Provide instructions to patients or family members concerning diagnoses or treatment plans.
- Provide non-surgical interventions, including corrective lenses, patches, drops, fusion exercises, or stereograms, to treat conditions such as strabismus, heterophoria, and convergence insufficiency.
- Develop or use special test and communication techniques to facilitate diagnosis and treatment of children or disabled patients.
- Interpret clinical or diagnostic test results.
- Refer patients to ophthalmic surgeons or other physicians.
- Provide training related to clinical methods or orthoptics to students, resident physicians, or other health professionals.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Assisting and Caring for Others Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Interests - Orthoptist
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
The Social person's interests focus on interacting with the people in their environment. In all cases, the Social person enjoys the personal contact with other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.
Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
In order to treat all your patients effectively, you must have good communication skills and have the ability to relate well to young children and their parents. The work requires understanding, tact, honesty and the ability to inspire confidence.
You need to be good at persuading people, as parents may have difficulty accepting that their child needs glasses. The children themselves may also be reluctant to wear glasses.
Other important skills are the ability to make accurate measurements, to pay attention to detail, and to analyse problems and find solutions - often to several problems at once.
You will have to keep accurate records on each patient and prepare reports for the ophthalmologist. You will also have to write letters to general practitioners (GPs), patients and opticians. It is important to be methodical and self-disciplined.
Entry Requirements - Orthoptist
Pay & Salary - Orthoptist
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 34k - 63k
Last Updated: February, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
Labour Market Updates - Orthoptist
Useful Contacts - Orthoptist
British and Irish Orthoptic Society
Irish Association of Orthoptists