Orthoptics - A Relatively New Specialty With Tremendous Job PotentialJune 17, 2015
Orthoptics is an allied health specialty that focuses on the non-surgical care andtreatment of the eyes. Orthoptists usually work in an ophthalmologist’s clinic.
- Job Description of an Orthoptist
Orthoptists diagnose and assess eye movement disorders and vision problems and recommend nonsurgical procedures for correcting these problems. Depending on the type of problem, they may prescribe glasses, eye exercises or occlusion therapy. In some cases, they may also recommend appropriate surgical procedures if necessary. Although orthoptists do not conduct any surgical procedure themselves, they often assist in minor procedures they assist in minor procedures such as tear duct probing and removal of cysts from the eyelid.
In addition to testing a patient’s vision to diagnose eye diseases such as glaucoma, orthoptists also test vision to detect the presence of other medical conditions such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis, which can be seen through problems with the eyes.
They also perform cataract assessment, conduct tests for age related macular degeneration, help with screening vision in school children and assist in the rehabilitation of patients who are experiencing vision problems after suffering a stroke or a head injury.
Orthoptists are usually employed by hospitals, research centres and private vision clinics.
- Education & Training Requirements
Before you can practice as an orthoptist, you will need to obtain a valid degree in this field. There are two universities in Australia that offer relevant undergraduate courses in orthoptics.
La Trobe University located in Victoria offers a four year double degree in Bachelor of Health Sciences and Master in Orthoptics. After completion of this degree, you will be qualified to practice as an orthoptist.
Another option is the University of Sydney where you will have to first complete a three year Bachelor of Health Science degree, after which you undertake a two year master’s degree in orthoptics.
After obtaining your qualification as an orthoptist, you can register with the Australian Orthoptic Board. While registration with the Board is not mandatory, it is highly recommended primarily for several reasons. Two major benefits that Board members enjoy include professional support and greater employment prospects.
- Difference Between An Orthoptist And Optometrist
An orthoptist specialises in the assessment and non-surgical treatment of vision disorders that are typically caused by imbalances that exist in the eye muscles. Common conditions include Amblyopia (lazy eye) and Strabismus (squint or crossed eye), both of which can be corrected non-surgically.
An optometrist is professionally trained and licensed to examine the eyes for vision defects, diagnose impairments or problems and prescribe corrective lenses or recommend some other form of treatment for the patient.
If you enjoy the field of eye care, you could consider a career as an orthoptist. This career will allow you to work with people who suffer from poor eyesight and other visual problems and help them improve their vision. Orthoptics is still a relatively new field. With the rising demand for this specialty and not enough qualified professionals to meet the demand, the career potential in this field is tremendous.