Orthoptists - seeing the future of children's vision

Orthoptists - seeing the future of children's vision

5th Sep 2021

It might just be that I'm not super bright but it took me a good few years to work out what an orthoptist was - despite having seen one quite regularly for Dane's eye checkups from six months of age. Although he would go in and be assessed by a lovely man at each appointment, I was so caught up in the stress of the appointments that I never took the time to investigate who this individual was and what his role was. I just thought he was another ophthalmologist!

Turns out though, he was an orthoptist.

So what is an orthoptist?

Orthoptists are university qualified allied health practitioners involved in the ocular investigations, diagnosis and nonsurgical management of individuals with eye conditions. Orthoptists can be found across a range of work settings including hospitals, private eye clinics, clinical research, low vision rehabilitation and community health centres.

There are currently two university courses in Australia that provide orthoptic qualifications: La Trobe University in Victoria and the University of Technology Sydney, in New South Wales.

Orthoptics Australia is the national professional body that promotes and advances the science and practice of orthoptics and advocates in the interest of members of the profession.

What does an orthoptist do?

Orthoptists can work in a variety of settings but many work in paediatrics. Orthoptists have an important role in performing high standard paediatric eye assessments, such as testing visual acuity. They have an integral and expanding scope of practice in children’s eye health.

Often they will be the first person who will check your child's vision when you visit the ophthalmologist. They will do all sorts of visual acuity testing on your child. I've always found them to be genuine, kind and caring individuals who are very passionate about kids' vision. 

World Orthoptics Day and Orthoptics Awareness Week are held in the first week of June each year.