Orthoptists

Orthoptists work with patients who have problems with their eyes or vision.  The role of the orthoptist is to investigate, diagnose and treat disorders of eye movement and alignment.  They treat squints, defective vision, double vision and problems with eye movements.  While a large proportion of an orthoptist’s caseload is children, orthoptists work with patients of all ages.  Adults may present with defects of eye movement caused by injury or disease. 
 
Other orthoptic roles include low vision, rehabilitation following strokes, maxillofacial injuries, reading difficulties, and glaucoma screening.  They are usually based within the hospital ophthalmic departments but some posts may include community clinics.  They work with ophthalmologists (eye surgeons) optometrists (opticians) and with other medical and surgical specialists.
 

EDUCATION AND TRAINING

Orthoptists are state registered health care professionals.  They qualify via a BSc Honours degree course from Liverpool University or a BMS Honours degree course from Sheffield University.  These three year courses include clinical practice and therefore extend to 40/42 weeks per year. 
 
Successful completion of the course allows state registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).  Registration is essential if you wish to work within the NHS.
 

MINIMUM ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

These are a rough guide - please contact UCAS/institution for exact entry requirements.
 
A Level
Grades BBB (300 UCAS points)
Biology at grade B, excluding general studies.
GCSE
Five GCSE subjects at grade C required including English, Maths, Biology and Physics or Dual Science Award.
 
Equivalent qualifications may be considered.  Seek advice from the institution. 
 
Mature applicants aged 21 and over are considered independently and on merit. Please contact the institution directly for more information.
 
All applicants will be required to satisfactorily complete a criminal records check as a condition of acceptance.
 

HOW TO APPLY

The University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) offers an applications service. Please click here for more information.
 

CAREER OPPORTUNITIES

The majority of this profession work within the NHS although there are some opportunities within the armed services or in private practice. 
 
There are opportunities to work as lecturers and researchers in universities and there is a teaching element to Health Service work when orthoptic students are placed in a department.  There are also opportunities to work overseas.
 
Agenda for Change Band
Examples of Roles
5
Orthoptist
6
Orthoptist Specialist
7
Orthoptist Advanced
 
Please click here for details on NHS pay and conditions.
 
For employment opportunities, see NHS Jobs website www.jobs.nhs.uk.
 

STUDENT SUPPORT

Each year the Welsh Government funds a number of healthcare students to undertake this course. For those healthcare students who have secured an NHS Wales funded place, the Welsh Government provides the following support:
  • Funds full costs of tuition fees
  • Provides student financial support to eligible students which includes bursaries/salaries, childcare costs, disabled students' allowance etc. Please click here for more details
 

FURTHER CONTACTS

Academic Institutions:
Liverpool University
Sheffield University            
 
Professional Association:
British and Irish Orthoptic Society
 
Registration:
Health and Care Professions Council                     
HCPC is a regulatory body that maintains a register of health and care professionals. All of these professions have at least one professional title that is protected by law. Anyone using these titles must be registered with HCPC. It is a criminal offence for someone to claim that they are registered with HCPC when they are not, or to use a protected title that they are not entitled to use. 
 
 
Please contact nhswalescareers@wales.nhs.uk for any queries/comments on this page.
 

Last updated: 16 April 2013