Exploring this Job

A good way to learn more about the orthoptics field is by working part time or over the summer in an orthoptist's office. This will give you opportunities to observe what the day-to-day tasks are and if this type of work is a good fit for you. Conduct an informational interview with an orthoptist to find out how they got started in the profession and what recommendations they may have for you. Ask your school's career services office for help with finding job listings and orthoptists interested in discussing their career with students. Keep up with developments and news in the orthoptics field by reading publications such as the Journal of Binocular Vision and Ocular Motility, https://www.orthoptics.org/aoj. Meet people working in orthoptics and learn about career opportunities by attending industry conferences and events. Find listings on professional associations' Web sites, such as the International Orthoptic Association, https://www.internationalorthoptics.org/events/events.

The Job

Orthoptists diagnose and treat eye disorders such as binocular vision and impairments to eye movement. They work in a variety of settings, including private practices, clinics, and hospitals. They often work closely with other vision specialists, such as ophthalmologists, to evaluate and diagnose patients' eye disorders and recommend plans for treatment. Orthoptists are not medical doctors but they have extensive formal education and training in the visual system.

Orthoptists examine patients who have eye disorders such as binocular vision, ocular motility, amblyopia, which is diminished or impaired vision due to an eye defect, or strabismus, which is crossed eyes or wall eyes. Orthoptists perform tests and measurements, including motor and visual acuity tests and color vision tests. They use ophthalmic equipment such as lensometers, which check the lenses in prescription glasses to make sure they are correct. They also use retinoscopes, which are instruments that illuminate the internal eye to measure the light that reflects off the retina. Retinoscopy helps orthoptists to determine if patients need to have their vision corrected.

Once they diagnose the eye problem, orthoptists discuss their findings with their patients and give recommendations and instructions for the treatment plans. Theses plans are usually nonsurgical interventions, which can include eye drops, eye muscle exercises, eye patches, or corrective lenses. They offer referrals to opthalmic surgeons or other physicians, depending on the eye disorders. Orthoptists also collaborate with ophthalmologists, optometrists, and other medical specialists in diagnosing, treating, and managing patients' eye problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal diseases.

Orthoptists may train and teach the clinical practice of orthoptics to students and other health professionals. They may contribute to clinical research projects related to orthoptics. Some orthoptists specialize in pediatric orthoptics; they may perform eye exams of children in schools or in health centers.

The job requires strong technology skills. Orthoptists use a variety of software programs while on the job. Some examples include: computer-based training software such as SeeRite Flash and Match; medical software such as Computer-Aided Vision Therapy (CAVT), MAX Systems Max-Gold Medical Clinic Software, and Therapeutic optic software; Word processing software such as Eye Tracking Exercises Enterprise Track with Letters and Microsoft Word; and e-mail software and spreadsheet software.