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Medical

Orthoptist

Orthoptists work with a team of specialists to diagnose and treat eye problems.

Annual Salary

£22,548 to £45,838

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 39 a week

You could work: evenings; flexibly

Day to day tasks

Depending on where you work, as part of your day-to-day duties you may:

  • diagnose squints, lazy eyes (amblyopia), reduced or double vision, and disorders due to injury or illness
  • manage conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, stroke, retinal disease and neurological disorders
  • carry out vision tests on children
  • suggest treatments like eye patches, eye exercises, contact lenses or low vision aids
  • refer to another specialist or a surgeon
  • work within a team of other healthcare professionals, like ophthalmologists (eye surgeons), optometrists (who prescribe and dispense glasses and lenses) and vision scientists.

Working environment

You could work in an NHS or private hospital or in the community.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
University

You'll need to get a degree in orthoptics, approved by the Health and Care Professions Council.

There's a lot of competition for places on the orthoptics degree courses, so you'll need to show an understanding and commitment before you apply.

You'll find it helpful to get some paid or voluntary experience in your local orthoptic department before you apply for a course.

You could contact the head orthoptist or the voluntary services co-ordinator at your local NHS trust for further advice.

The British and Irish Orthoptics Society can provide information on work shadowing opportunities.

As well as a student loan, you may be able to access elements of the NHS Learning Support Fund, which can cover hardship, travel and childcare costs.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • 3 A levels, or equivalent, including at least 1 science
For more information

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Career tips

When applying for courses and jobs, you'll be expected to have an understanding of how NHS values apply in your work.

Professional and industry bodies

You could join the British and Irish Orthoptic Society, for professional development, training opportunities and to make industry contacts. Student membership is free of charge and runs until you graduate.

Further information

You can find out more about careers in this area from the British and Irish Orthoptic Society and Health Careers.

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With experience, you could become a specialist orthoptist, for example, working with people affected by stroke, or dealing with children.

You could become a head or consultant orthoptist, and manage a team or department.

You could also take further qualifications and move into research or teaching, or work in private practice and set up your own clinic.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • the ability to work well with others
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • knowledge of medicine and how the human body works
  • to enjoy working with other people
  • knowledge of English language
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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