Academic Unit of Ophthalmology and Orthoptics

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: We are pleased to now welcome applications from International Students

The course is now open to UCAS Extra which runs from 25th February to 4th July 2017

BMedSci (Honours) Orthoptic Degree

The Academic Unit of Ophthalmology and Orthoptics is a vibrant teaching and research active unit within the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health. We're a welcoming and sociable community, dedicated to nurturing our students' talents and to upholding the core values of the NHS in supporting the highest standards of excellence and professionalism through our education and research. We are proud of repeatedly achieving outstanding student satisfaction scores. Our practical teaching facilities and research labs are excellently equipped and have recently been refurbished.

The orthoptic degree course will give you the specialist knowledge, skills and experience to build a rewarding career that improves lives. You will develop scientific, clinical and patient skills such as communication, empathy and problem solving to prepare you for a career as an orthoptist.

Our course is an extended 3 year full time degree comprising of academic teaching at university and clinical teaching at hospitals across the UK and Ireland. It is a vocational degree and likely to appeal to you, if you are interested in working within the medical field as part of a multidisciplinary eye care team and enjoy working with people of all ages.


What is Orthoptics?

Orthoptics is the investigation and management of disorders of binocular vision and defects of eye movement. Patients presenting to an orthoptist may have sudden onset of diplopia (double vision) and abnormal eye movements. The orthoptist’s role is to investigate the patient, make a differential diagnosis of the condition, alleviate the diplopia and plan the long-term management of the ocular signs and symptoms with the eye care team. Children presenting with childhood strabismus (misalignment of one eye) are treated for visual loss in the deviating eye (amblyopia) and may have the strabismus corrected with glasses, prisms, exercises or surgery on the eye muscles. Detailed diagnostic tests performed by the orthoptist allow decisions to be made on the appropriate treatment for individual patients.

Orthoptists work primarily within the NHS. They make a valuable contribution to the eye care team, working with patients of all ages. Most orthoptists work in hospital eye departments receiving referrals from ophthalmologists, neurologists, GP´s, health visitors, school nurses and optometrists. Others work in the community. Many orthoptists are involved in vision screening in schools.

Orthoptists may assist ophthalmologists in the diagnosis and management of a number of ocular conditions such as glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy. Tests carried out include visual field assessment on computerised visual field analysers, measurement of intra-ocular pressure and computerised optic disc assessment.

Low vision clinics to assess patients with poor vision are also offered by orthoptists in some areas. They give advice to maximise visual performance and supply visual aids such as magnifiers and telescopes where appropriate. Other extended roles of an orthoptists can involve examining patients who have suffered a stroke and have visual symptoms, electrodiagnostic and eye movement testing.

Is Orthoptics for you?

Orthoptics could be the career for you if you enjoy working with people, have good communication skills and are compassionate about improving people’s lives. You need to be able to work as a part of a team and enjoy problem solving and science subjects such Biology, Physics and Maths.

Career Prospects

Graduation photo

Your career prospects as an orthoptist are excellent. The majority of our graduates obtain an orthoptic position in the NHS soon after graduation. There are good opportunities for progression and to specialise in various areas of orthoptic care such as children, stroke, low vision and neurology. As clinical experience develops orthoptists can progress into more senior positions and clinical management.
Our department offers a Masters degree in Vision and Strabismus. This is a distance learning course designed for orthoptists and eye care professionals to enhance their learning and develop new areas of expertise. Studying a PhD in many different aspects of vision science is a further opportunity.

The orthoptic degree is recognised worldwide. There are good opportunities to work abroad. Past graduates have worked in New Zealand, Australia, USA, Hong Kong, Malta, Cypress, Denmark and Gibraltar

Welcome by Dr Helen Griffiths, Programme Leader

orthoptic student testing a patient