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Orthoptic department

Orthoptic team

The Orthoptic department is part of the Ophthalmology team and work closely with the Ophthalmologists (eye doctors) and Optometrists.

What does an Orthoptist do?

Orthoptists are Allied Health Professionals who investigate and treat conditions affecting the eye in adults and children, such as squints, ocular motility disorders (problems with eye muscle movement), vision defects including amblyopia (lazy eye), double vision, and binocular single vision problems (difficulty using the eyes together as a pair). Orthoptists are also involved in assessing patients with glaucoma and cataracts.

Orthoptic treatments include:

  • Occlusion therapy with either a patch or drops to help improve reduced vision (lazy eye or amblyopia)
  • Prisms to help join double vision
  • Lenses to either alter the angle of a squint or/and help to improve vision.  
  • Exercises to help the eyes work together as a pair.

How do I get referred?

  • Through your GP
  • By one of the doctors or Ophthalmologists at the hospital
  • If your GP considers your case to be urgent, you may be seen via the Primary Care Clinic (eye casualty)
  • We also have a direct referral pathway with the Stroke team.

What clinics are there and where are they held?

We hold Orthoptic clinics at Bexhill Hospital, Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne DGH. Community clinics are held in Crowborough Memorial Hospital, Hailsham Bridgeside Surgery and Seaford Medical Centre.

The Orthoptist will always try to offer you an appointment as close to your home address as possible, however the community clinics are only suitable for seeing certain cases.

Your Orthoptic appointment

Routine Orthoptic appointments either last 20 or 40 minutes depending upon your eye condition. Your appointment will be longer if you have a joint appointment to see the Ophthalmologist and/or Optometrist or Visual Fields technician on the same day.     

You may need to have drops put into your eyes on the day of your appointment. These dilate the pupil and blur your vision; your appointment letter will tell you if this will be expected. As your vision will be blurred for sometime following the drops, it is advised that you do not drive yourself to your appointment and make alternative travel arrangements.  

Vision Technicians

You may also receive an appointment for a Visual field. The Vision Technicians in the hospital support the Orthoptists, Optometrists and Ophthalmologists by providing diagnostic tests when needed.

A Visual field assessment is a test to see if you have any missing spots in your field of vision (peripheral vision). Some patients may also require a HRT scan. This is a laser scan that captures an image of the optic disc at the back of the eye. Neither of these tests require you to have drops in your eyes, however if your appointment is also to see Ophthalmologist you may require drops.

Qualifications, education and training   

All Orthoptists hold a Degree or Diploma (pre 1993) in Orthoptics and are legally required to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.

The Orthoptic department is an accredited centre for the teaching of Undergraduate Orthoptic students. The students come to us on clinical placement from the Universities of Liverpool and Sheffield. When you come to your appointment you may be seen by a student who will be being assessed by a qualified Orthoptist.

We also have Junior Doctors, Student Nurses, Pre-registration Optometrists, School Nurses and Health Visitors sitting in and observing our clinics from time to time.

Many of our Orthoptists hold further qualifications or have undertaken additional study in their area of expertise such as Clinical teaching, Glaucoma, Vision screening and Low vision aids.

We are committed to the continuing professional development of our staff and the Orthoptists regularly attend regional and national study days as well as in-house events.

Patient information

The following patient information leaflets are available:

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