What is Orthoptics?

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What is Orthoptics?

Orthoptics is a specialized field in ophthalmology, dealing with very specific eye problems, such as amblyopia (reduced vision in one or both eyes), crossed eyes, strabismus (misalignment of the eyes) and diplopia (double vision).

The eye-care team

Orthoptists serve on eye-care teams, assisting ophthalmologists in the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders. They perform specialized diagnostic eye tests to measure and assess defective binocular vision or abnormal eye movement in patients. They interpret the results of the tests and suggest treatment plans — eye exercises, patching regimens or other techniques to control eye movements.

The orthoptist acts as the liaison between the ophthalmologist and the patient, assisting in the explanation and execution of recommended treatments that can include special lenses, filters, prisms and exercises to help people correct their vision. They may be asked to implement non-surgical treatment plans and provide follow-up care.

Though most orthoptists have a great deal of autonomy, they do not practice independently. All orthoptists have an ophthalmology sponsor who accepts the ultimate responsibility for the care of each patient seen by the orthoptist.

Demand for orthoptists is high

According to the American Orthoptic Council, jobs are plentiful. It is not unusual for an orthoptic position to remain unfilled for several years, due to the shortage of certified orthoptists to meet the demand. Currently, there are not enough orthoptists entering the work force to replace those who are retiring, and new positions are frequently opening up across the country.