A career in Orthoptics

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 also 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.

On completion of the orthoptic degree graduates are eligible to apply for registration with the Health Professions Council (HPC), to practice as an Orthoptist*. Most orthoptists gain a position in the NHS soon after graduation. There are good opportunities for progression such as specialising in various areas of orthoptic care eg. neurological, children, stroke and low vision care. As clinical experience develops orthoptists can progress into more senior positions and clinical management.  Postgraduate study at university including a Masters degree or PhD in many different aspects of vision science is a further opportunity. There are limited opportunities to work within the private sector. The degree is recognised internationally so employment abroad is a possible career option.

* If a student fails to achieve honours, the degree of BMedSci (Ocular Studies) will be awarded. This is not an honours degree and not eligible for admission to the HCPC register

Alumni Profiles

Below are profiles from some of our alumni:

Name: Helen KuhtHelen Kuht
Graduated: Bachelor of Medical Science, with honours in Orthoptics, 2016
Current position: Research Orthptist, University of Leicester
In 2016 I graduated from Sheffield after an incredible 3 years studying Orthoptics with fantastic placement opportunities and first class lectures. One month after graduating, I started a research post at the University of Leicester, introducing me to further training and insight in to a large variety of new equipment, unfamiliar complex cases and further testing procedures. Soon after starting in Leicester, I was leading my own projects specifically researching the hereditary condition Albinism and the acquired degenerative condition Multiple Sclerosis (MS); these two research areas then formed the basis for starting my part-time PhD in April 2017.

In addition to my projects, I am involved in recruitment for wider projects within the department and at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, working in clinics with Professor Gottlob and analysis and general admin within the office. I am also working alongside a fantastic team on the nationwide 100,000 Genomes Project, for which I have attended Genomics conferences and lectures. More recently, I have taken up a Bank Orthoptist post at Leicester Royal Infirmary to ensure I keep up with my clinical Orthoptic skills. There have already been a number of excellent opportunities with this post to present at various conferences and get involved in teaching sessions, and later this year I have been invited to speak at the Centre for Medicine in Leicester to a group of 80+ international Medics and researchers. Last month I was extremely grateful and overwhelmed to be invited to an awards ceremony to celebrate the achievements of students within the university, and much to my surprise was awarded with the ‘President and Vice Chancellors Student of the Year Award’ and the ‘Frank May Cup for Community Impact and Volunteering’, which has been a completely surreal experience, and was only made possible by the continuous support from the brilliant team I am working with in Leicester. A massive thanks to all the lecturers and wider department in Orthoptics at the University of Sheffield for providing me with the teaching and encouragement throughout all 3 years and beyond, as it was this that ultimately lead to a career I love!

Name: Mun Wei Kan
Graduated: Bachelor of Medical Science, wth honours in Orthoptics, 2016
Current position: Orthoptist, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust
Summary: The past three years studying Orthoptics at the University of Sheffield although challenging at times, have been extremely rewarding and enjoyable. From the lectures and tutorials at university to each clinical placement that I have been on in hospital eye departments throughout the UK, I have met the most supportive lecturers and clinical tutors who have always been passionate in teaching and always willing to help. The course has not only enabled me to develop a full range of theoretical and practical orthoptic skills, but has also given me the opportunity to learn skills such as refraction and using the slit lamp, making me extremely well-equipped me for the working world. It has been a truly amazing experience through which I have made some lifelong friends, thank you!

Name: Jordan Francesca Marsh
Graduated: Bachelor of Medical Science, with honours in Orthoptics, 2014
Current position: Orthoptist, Colchester Hospital
Summary: After visiting Sheffield at an open day, I fell totally in love with the city. It is a beautiful city where you get an exciting mix of city life but with the countryside on your doorstep and most of it within walking distance. Something that really stood out about Sheffield was how friendly the people were and how comfortable I quickly became around the city. As a student I would definitely recommend Sheffield as a place to live.
Orthoptics is a great choice of degree course if you want a guaranteed career working in a hands on health care environment with people of all age ranges and backgrounds.
The academic unit of Ophthalmology and Orthoptics leaves you completely prepared for the outside world by having an appropriate mix of lectures and placements. One thing I particularly enjoyed about studying orthoptics was the small sizes of each year group meaning it was much more personal, allowing us to form close bonds with classmates and lecturer's.
Studying Orthoptics has allowed me to achieve the career I wanted. I was offered my first Orthoptist job 3 months before finishing university subject to grades, and have recently accepted another position allowing me to become a band 6 Orthoptist shortly. Having such good employment opportunities has been a big bonus to me. So to conclude I would definitely recommend Orthoptics as a degree course and Sheffield as the city to study it in.

Name: Eve Lacey
Graduated: Bachelor of Medical Science, with honours in Orthoptics, 2014
Current position: Orthoptist, UPMC's Children's Hospital in Pennsylvania, USA
Summary: The orthoptics course at Sheffield University has given me a solid foundation of theoretical and clinical knowledge and has enabled me to develop my professional and interpersonal skills. The level of teaching was of a high standard, with concise lectures and in depth tutorials. The staff were very welcoming, friendly, helpful and accommodating.
The course also gave me the opportunity to experience a wide variety of hospitals, both district and tertiary hospitals, across the UK. This allowed me to pick up tips and advice from various orthoptists so that I could learn how to perform my role as effectively and efficiently as possible. It also enabled me to visit many towns and cities in the UK that I would not have otherwise visited. I feel this has allowed me to gain a more fulfilled university experience that has better prepared me for my career.
I really enjoyed my time at Sheffield University. The Student's Union offered a vast variety of clubs and societies. I tried a fair few, with my favourite being the DJ society. There was also the Orthoptics society, which organised a Christmas ball each year for all undergraduate orthoptists and lecturers. I also had the opportunity to be involved with the staff-student committee of both the department and faculty, which enabled better communication between staff and students to improve the overall teaching and university experience.
As Orthoptics at Sheffield is such a small course (40 people per year), it enabled me to make strong connections within the orthoptic profession before starting my career. Through making strong connections, I have been given the opportunity to work abroad at UPMC's Children's Hospital in Pennsylvania, USA. I will be involved in both clinical and research orthoptics, with the opportunity to widen my skill set, experiences and practises beyond the NHS remit in the UK.

Name: Helen Sach
Graduated: Bachelor of Medical science with honours in Orthoptics 2013
Current position: Moreton Eye Group, Queensland, Australia/ Worcestershire acute trust
Summary: After graduating in summer 2013 I started working at Worcestershire acute trust where I was given great opportunities to further my knowledge in orthoptics and extended roles that orthoptists can do.
After working in Worcestershire for just under two and a half years I was allowed to take an employment break from the trust so I could travel to Australia. After arriving here I was lucky enough to find work as Orthoptist straight away in Brisbane for a private hospital where I have broadened my knowledge in ophthalmology further. The job role is very different here but my degree is still accepted and I am not the only English orthoptist! The role is more like a mixture of Orthoptist/Optometrist/ Nurse/ technician so everyday is very variable. While I am this side of the world I am also travelling around Australia and New Zealand.
I really enjoyed my time studying at Sheffield University and I have made friends for life through the course.

Name: Laura Crawford
Graduated: Bachelor of Medical Science, with honours in Orthoptics, 2009
Masters of Medical Science in Vision & Strabismus, 2014
Current Position: Orthoptist, Newcastle Eye Centre, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne
Summary: I carried out my undergraduate degree at the Academic Unit of Ophthalmology and Orthoptics to be able to apply for my current role as an Orthoptist. I have a strong interest in research and was keen to develop these skills further without reducing my clinical skills. The Distance Learning masters course was ideal for this. Through the course I have been able to consolidate Orthoptic theory for my practice and also carry out a research project. The tutors and staff are all very encouraging and with the support of Dr Helen Griffiths I have been able to make my research project into a journal article which has been accepted to be published this year. I would recommend this course to anyone wanting to further develop their Orthoptic theory and carry out a research project.

Name: Emma Smyth
Graduated: Bachelor of Medical Science, with honours in Orthoptics, 2014
Current position: Orthoptist at Moorfields Eye Hosptial, London
Summary: One of the main reasons I chose Sheffield was because of my experience at the open day I attended. I felt instantly welcomed in the department and also in the city. I felt the facilities in the Medical School and the Academic Unit of Ophthalmology and Orthoptics were great and additionally the staff were really helpful and knowledgeable. Sheffield is a great city to live in as your first city away from home with lots to do and extremely friendly people.
My degree has prepared me for my graduate post here at Moorfields Eye Hospital by giving me a great grounding in Orthoptics. I had a lot of exposure to patients throughout my degree and felt really comfortable and ready to make the transition to my graduate post. My lecturers were extremely encouraging and helpful throughout the course and also in helping me prepare for my interview here at Moofields.

Images of orthoptists at work