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Orthoptists investigate, diagnose and treat disorders of binocular single vision (e.g. squints) and problems relating to reduced vision. This may be due to amblyopia (lazy eye) and/or the need for glasses.
Orthoptists also assess abnormal eye movements, which may be caused by nerve palsy, injury to the eye or diseases affecting the muscles in the eye. Patients with eye movement problems often complain of seeing diplopia (double vision).
Orthoptists may treat patients with prisms, eye exercises or patches.
A more detailed description of the role of the orthoptist can be found on the British and Irish Orthoptic Society website.
Orthoptists must be registered with the Health Professions Council to practice.
We provide a specialist orthoptic role, working independently, and as part of the variety of services provided the Oxfordshire Orthoptic Department accepts direct referrals from GPs, health visitors and optometrists.
All Orthoptic clinics are by appointment only. An orthoptic appointment takes approximately 20-30 minutes. If you need to see the optometrist and/or ophthalmologist as well, the whole process may take up to three hours.
Dilating eye drops are frequently used for assessment by the optometrist and/or ophthalmologist, and take 30 minutes to take effect. Time will then be needed for the eye examination itself and a discussion of the results of the test.
It may be possible for the orthoptist to see you at one of our community clinics nearer to your home if a follow-up appointment is needed. Please ask at the end of your visit to see if this is possible.
How often you need an appointment will depend on your age, type of eye problem and treatment. The orthoptist will tell you how regularly you need to attend and for how long.
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Orthoptic services provided at the Eye Hospital include the following.
Children's Rapid Access Clinic (CRAC)
This clinic is primarily a fast-track clinic for children referred by the GP, HV optometrist or orthoptist (see School Vision Screening) who need a combined orthoptic and optometry refraction (glasses test). The children seen in this clinic are aged between two and a half and eight years of age. We aim to offer an appointment within four to six weeks of your child being referred.
Direct Access Referral Clinic
This clinic is for children referred via their health visitor or GP because of a suspected squint or vision problem. We aim to offer an appointment within four weeks of referral.
A specialist orthoptist visits seven special schools around the county. This may be once a term or on an annual basis, depending on the school. The orthoptist can provide the initial assessment and follow-up care at school for those children who require it.
The orthoptist assesses children with complex needs working as part of a multidisciplinary team. The children with needs, such as speech and language disorders and suspected autistic spectrum disorder, have a variety of assessments over the course of the week, including an eye examination with the orthoptist and optometrist in the Community Paediatrics Department at the Oxford Children's Hospital.
Oxford Centre for Enablement (OCE)
Rehabilitation centre for patients post stroke / head injury)
We provide orthoptic assessment within part of the multidisciplinary team for patients admitted to the OCE for rehabilitation following a stroke or brain injury.
Neurology / Neuro-ophthalmology
The orthoptist works with the ophthalmologist and neurologists on the neuro-ophthalmology ward round. The orthoptist assesses day case and inpatients on the Neurosciences Ward who have visual disturbances e.g. double vision.
The orthoptist receives referrals from the multidisciplinary team for patients who have specific vision problems following a stroke, such as double vision, blurred vision and peripheral vision loss. The orthoptist may assess the patient on the Stroke Ward at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Abingdon Community Hospital or Witney Community Hospital. GPs can refer patients directly to the Orthoptic Department if the patient is experiencing a vision problem post stroke. A stroke service is also offered to inpatients at the Horton General Hospital.
Visual Impairment Support Service
This is a clinic for the parents of children with a newly diagnosed visual impairment. The visual impairment clinic provides support for families with a child who has recently been diagnosed with visual impairment. The orthoptist can liaise with any other hospital or community services to ensure families are supported and have access to the services they need.
The orthoptist works as part of the multidisciplinary team for patients attending the Oxford Craniofacial Unit, which is one of the four supra regional centres in the UK for craniofacial disorders. A significant number of craniofacial patients have eye movement disorders and visual problems.
Specific learning difficulties
Children and adults with specific visual symptoms associated with reading, writing and spelling can be assessed and appropriate advice given.
Visual Field Assessment
Visual fields are carried out by the orthoptist at Abingdon (Community Hospital), Banbury (Horton General Hospital), Bicester (Montgomery House), Witney (Community Hospital) and Wantage (Mably Way Health Centre).
Teaching and research
We teach various professional groups, including undergraduate orthoptic students, pre-registration optometrists, medical students, junior doctors and trainee GPs. The department is an accredited centre for undergraduate students on clinical placement from the University of Liverpool and the University of Sheffield. The department is also involved in research.
Private patients can be seen in the Orthoptic Department following referral from a Consultant Ophthalmologist.
School Vision Screening
This service is offered to all state and independent schools in Oxfordshire and has been running since January 2008. The service is offered to all children who are four to five years of age, in Reception/Foundation stage, and requires parental permission. The orthoptist checks vision, eye alignment and binocular vision (3D). If any anomaly is detected or the child does not meet the pass standards, a referral will be recommended to the Oxford Eye Hospital or to a local optometrist (optician).
If your child misses the school eye test please take them to a local optician. If you are concerned about your child's eyes before this test is carried out, contact your GP or health visitor, who can refer your child to the appropriate team at the Oxford Eye Hospital.
An orthoptist is part of the multidisciplinary team and provides appropriate management of this patient group, co-ordinates appropriate follow-up and provides input at the weekly team meetings about visual problems, implications and progress.
An orthoptist is part of the multidisciplinary team to ensure integration of ophthalmology care with the rest of the patient's needs. The Oxford NF2 Service is one of four supra regional services in the UK for assessment and management of patients with neurofibromatosis type 2.
All patients with orbital fractures and possible ocular motility disorder as a result, have an orthoptic assessment to document eye alignment, ocular movements and measurements where appropriate. A report is sent back to the maxillofacial team, any diplopia managed, and follow-up arranged as necessary.
In addition to the above clinics, we provide orthoptic support to the twice weekly Paediatric Ophthalmology Clinic, once monthly Ocular Motility Clinic and once a week Neuro-ophthalmology Clinic.
Orthoptists also perform the preoperative and postoperative assessment of children and adults having squint surgery.
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General orthoptic clinics are held at:
- Abingdon Community Hospital Outpatients
Most Wednesdays 9.00am - 4.30pm and one Thursday morning 9.00am - 12.00pm per month
- Horton General Hospital Outpatients, Banbury
Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
- Bicester Montgomery House Surgery
Thursdays 9.00am - 4.30pm school term-time only.
- Didcot Community Hospital
Tuesday and one Thursday per month 9.00am - 4.30pm
- Thame Community Hospital Outpatients
Second Thursday of the month 9.00am - 4.30pm
- Mably Way Health Centre, Wantage
All but one Friday of the month 1.30pm - 4.30pm
- Witney Community Hospital Outpatients
Fridays 9.00am - 4.30pm
At all of the above, apart from Thame, there is a combined orthoptic and optometry refraction (glasses test) clinic once a month or every other month.
Visual Field Assessments are carried out by the Orthoptic Service to support the ophthalmologist at Abingdon, Banbury, Bicester and Wantage clinics.
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Orthoptic Department Secretaries
- Email: OrthopticAdmin@ouh.nhs.uk
- Orthoptic Department
Oxford Eye Hospital
Level LG1, West Wing
John Radcliffe Hospital
Oxford OX3 9DU
- Tel: 01865 234742
- Monday to Friday 8.30am - 4.30pm
School Vision Screening queries
Head of Department, Stella Czypionka
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