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Orthoptist

You’ll work with a team of specialists to diagnose and treat eye problems.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £22,000 to £31,500 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37.5 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need:

  • paid or unpaid work experience with your local orthoptic department
  • a 3-year degree in orthoptics, approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
  • registration with the HCPC
The British and Irish Orthoptic Society (BIOS) and Health Careers have more information on becoming an orthoptist.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • accurate observation skills
  • a steady hand and good manual skills
  • the ability to get on with a wide range of people
  • the ability to use special testing equipment and understand the results 

3. What you'll do

You’ll receive patients from hospital eye casualty and neurology departments, and through GP and health visitor referrals. 

You’ll focus on conditions like:

  • a squint (strabismus)
  • reduced or double vision
  • ‘lazy eye’ (amblyopia)
  • a disorder due to injury or disease

You’ll also diagnosis and manage conditions, like:

  • glaucoma
  • cataract
  • stroke
  • retinal disease
  • neurological disorders

You’ll also carry out vision tests on children and suggest treatments, like:

  • using an eye patch
  • doing regular eye exercises
  • contact lenses
  • low vision aids
  • surgery
  • referral to another specialist
You’ll work within a team of other healthcare professionals, like ophthalmologists (eye surgeons), optometrists (who prescribe and dispense glasses and lenses) and vision scientists.

4. Salary

Starter: £22,000

Experienced: £26,250 to £31,500

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work 37.5 hours a week. In private practice you may need to work evenings and weekends.

You’ll see patients in hospital or in the community, working in health centres, day nurseries, special schools, or school clinics.

6. 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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Last updated: 11 April 2017