what is an orthoptist?

As an orthoptist, you treat eye movement disorders and visual impairments caused by the eye's interactions with the brain. The role requires expertise in diagnosing defects in binocular visions. Visual problems usually occur due to muscles or nerve issues affecting the brain's communication with the eyes. Orthoptists see patients experiencing symptoms like blurred, double and oscillating vision. Some patients exhibit outward signs like uncontrolled movement or misalignment of eyes.

Orthoptists are trained to provide a range of treatments to manage and correct eye conditions. You assist patients in managing their visual problems and provide remedies like eye exercises, glasses, prisms or eye patches. Sometimes, you work with patients with neurological conditions that affect vision, like brain tumours or strokes. You help manage the symptoms and assist with the general rehabilitation of the patients.

To work as an orthoptist in the UK, you should be registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC), which sets the standards of training and practice. As a registered orthoptist, you are employed by the NHS in hospitals or eye clinics. You may also work in specialist facilities like rehabilitation centres for patients with neurological conditions and community clinics.

Would working as an orthoptist suit your problem-solving skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in an orthoptist role.

orthoptist jobs

average orthoptist salary

According to National Careers, the average salary of an orthoptist ranges from £22,548 to £45,838 per year. Entry-level orthoptists working for the NHS start with a Band 4 salary of £22,548 annually. During the trainee position that lasts from 12 to 18 months, you gain experience in the role by assisting a registered orthoptist. When you have additional years of experience, your earnings increase gradually to Band 5, set at £25,655 to £31,534.

When you gain a specialist clinical role, your compensation package grows to Band 6, ranging from £32,306 to £39,027. When you attain an advanced specialist level, you lead in a specific area and perform managerial duties, which increases your salary to Band 7 from £40,057 to £45,839 per year. Heads of orthoptics take home between Band 7 and Band 8 salaries, depending on the department. Their earnings can be as high as £90,387 annually. Apart from the basic salary, the NHS also provides numerous benefits like high-cost area supplements and other non-monetary benefits.

how to increase the salary of an orthoptist

The salary of orthoptists usually depends on the employer and work experience. NHS salaries are usually fixed and increase with experience. However, working in London can improve your compensation package by as much as 20%. Earnings in the private sector depend on the size of the clinic or hospital. Working for small clinics attracts lower salaries due to the limited resources. However, large hospitals or research facilities pay very high salaries.

male orthoptist
male orthoptist

types of orthoptists

Some of the types of orthoptists include:

  • clinical orthoptists: you work in eye clinics or departments in large hospitals. Your job is to diagnose and treat visual problems in patients seeking specialised treatment. You also work with other healthcare professionals to assist with managing eye problems in patients with neurological conditions.
  • community orthoptists: you work in community health centres or schools managing visual problems in children and adults. Sometimes, you work in rehabilitation centres to help patients with various visual problems. You provide remedies for misalignment and issues related to eye movements.
  • paediatric orthoptists: you assist children with neurological problems that affect their vision. You work in children's hospitals or special schools to assist with the diagnosis and treatment of blurred vision caused by eye movement problems.

working as an orthoptist

If you are passionate about helping people with visual problems, you will enjoy your career as an orthoptist. Read on for details on orthoptists' duties, work schedules and career prospects.


education and skills

Some of the routes of becoming an orthoptist include:

  • university: to join the profession, pursue a degree in orthoptics at university. The entry requirements are 3 A levels, including a science. The Health and Care Professions Councils should approve the course. Due to the competitive nature of the role, consider gaining experience in eye care jobs. It will show your commitment and interest in the role.
  • professional bodies: to practice as an orthoptist, you should register with the Health and Care Professions Council. Join the British and Irish Orthoptic Society for training opportunities and professional development.

skills and competencies

Some of the qualities of an orthoptist include:

  • communication skills: you require communication skills to explain patient conditions clearly. It is also important to explain treatment and care plans to patients before commencing any procedures. Writing skills are also necessary for preparing reports.
  • teamwork skills: you work alongside various eye care specialists to provide eye treatment plans. It is important to have a collaborative approach to work, and teamwork skills help you work well with others.
  • problem-solving skills: you rely on your logical and critical thinking skills to diagnose eye problems and resolve the conditions. When a patient has a unique eye condition, you use your problem-solving skills to research the best solutions to their issues.
  • observation skills: you examine a patient's eyes to diagnose eye movement and visual problems. Therefore, you require observational skills and attention to detail to identify the symptoms of visual problems.
smiling male orthoptist
smiling male orthoptist


FAQs about working as an orthoptist

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