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Raising awareness of orthoptics

Orthoptics Awareness Week 30 May – 3 June 2022

Do you know what orthoptics is?

Orthoptics is an eye health discipline that specialises in the assessment, diagnosis and non-surgical management of eye disorders.

Orthoptists were originally involved in managing patients with eye movement disorders such as squints (strabismus), double vision and lazy eye (amblyopia). In more recent years, orthoptists have expanded their role to also include co-ordination of clinical trials and the non-surgical care of patients with eye diseases like cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, age-related macular degeneration and low vision.

Orthoptists work in many eye health settings, including hospitals, private clinics, clinical research facilities and universities.

How are orthoptists different from optometrists and ophthalmologists?

Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialise in disorders of the eye and can prescribe medication and perform surgical procedures to manage eye disease. Optometrists are primary care practitioners who conduct eye examinations and prescribe and fit glasses or contact lenses. Optometrists will refer patients to ophthalmologists if eye disease is detected.

Orthoptists often work collaboratively with ophthalmologists to investigate and manage eye disease or co-ordinate clinical trials. They are highly trained in using specialised equipment such as ultrasonography machines, topographers and retinal cameras to detect and measure the progression of eye disease.

What is it like to work as an orthoptist?

We asked two staff members, Eman and Dantong, to share their thoughts on what it is like to work as an orthoptist at the Lions Eye Institute.

– Eman, Senior Orthoptist at the Lions Eye Institute

​”I graduated in Masters of Orthoptics at UTS in 2018, since then I’ve been working as an orthoptist at the Lions Eye Institute. We are eye therapists that are involved in the assessment, diagnosis and non-surgical management of eye disorders in children and adults. We play an important role in the eye clinic as we are typically the first point of contact with the patient, and clinicians rely on our pre-assessments.

“I am currently involved in working across a wide range of specialities, including paediatrics, strabismus, retinal and glaucoma. One of my roles is to assess vision and eye movements in babies and children by using specialised testing and techniques to help detect amblyopia and strabismus. I also help supervise and encourage patching therapy for children. My other roles involve testing adults using specialised technology in the clinic to detect and measure the progression of eye disease and to perform cataract assessments.

“Overall being an orthoptist is a rewarding career and no working day is the same! Being able to communicate with my patients every day and give them the best care is what makes my job the most enjoyable.”

– Dantong, Clinical Trials Orthoptist Leader at the Lions Eye Institute

“I have the opportunity to work as an orthoptist in both clinic and clinical trials at the Lions Eye Institute. I like the variety of my work involved in both teams.

“Working in the clinical trials department in a multi-specialty eye clinic gives me opportunities to learn about the novel treatments before they are on the market. At the Lions Eye Institute, clinical trials orthoptists conduct ocular assessments for trials investigating new treatments for eye diseases. We also help with trials focusing on non-ocular diseases (mostly cancer), that the study drugs have potential adverse effects on eyes.

“Being able to help patients in different ways is my motivation working as an orthoptist.”

Career opportunities

The Lions Eye Institute employs a number of orthoptists in a range of roles across research, clinical trials and outpatient clinics for both adult and paediatric patients. There are opportunities for career progression to leadership or specialist roles. Orthoptist roles are advertised on the careers page on our website.

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