Orthoptists diagnose and treat anomalies of binocular vision. They examine, assess and treat vision impairments, squint, amblyopia and eye motility disorders. Orthoptists apply these methods in particular in the fields of paediatrics, neurology, neuro-ophthalmology, ophthalmology, orthoptics, optometry, pleoptics and strabology assessing functional diseases of the eye for improving functional disorders of the visual system. They also provide counselling, preventive measures and training activities and may refract and prescribe glasses, such as prism corrective glasses.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to orthoptist:

expert orthoptist
orthoptics specialist
specialist orthoptist
orthoptics practitioner
orthoptics expert
qualified orthoptist
practitioner of orthoptics
specialist in orthoptics

Minimum qualifications

High school diploma is generally required to work as orthoptist. However, this requirement may differ in some countries.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Orthoptist is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Orthoptist career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to orthoptist.

specialist biomedical scientist
specialist pharmacist

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of orthoptist. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of orthoptist with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of orthoptist.

Hygiene in a health care setting: The procedures related to maintaining a hygienic environment within a health care setting such as hospitals and clinics. It can range from hand washing to cleaning and disinfection of medical equipment used and infection control methods.
Ophthalmological examination methods: The techniques and methods applied to examine patients` eyesight and take related measurements.
Health care legislation: The patients` rights and responsibilities of health practitioners and the possible repercussions and prosecutions in relation to medical treatment negligence or malpractice.
Neurophysiology: The medical specialty which is concerned with the study of the nervous system functionalities.
Medical terminology: The meaning of medical terms and abbreviations, of medical prescriptions and various medical specialties and when to use it correctly.
Treatment of strabismus: The treatment administered in the case of strabismus in patients of all ages.
Health care occupation-specific ethics: The moral standards and procedures, ethical questions and obligations specific to occupations in a health care setting such as respect for human dignity, self-determination, informed consent and patient confidentiality.
Optics: The science that studies the elements and reaction of light.
Human physiology: The science that studies the human organs and its interactions and mechanisms.
Neurology: Neurology is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.
Pharmacology: Pharmacology is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.
Neuro-ophthalmology: The diseases of the nervous system that affect vision and control of eye movement.
Paediatrics: Paediatrics is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.
Orthoptics: The principles, assessment techniques and treatment of orthoptic practice.
Contact lens fitting techniques: The techniques and tools used to fit contact lenses.
Professional documentation in health care: The written standards applied in the health care professional environments for documentation purposes of one`s activity.
Human anatomy: The dynamic relationship of human structure and function and the muscosceletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, endocrine, urinary, reproductive, integumentary and nervous systems; normal and altered anatomy and physiology throughout the human lifespan.
Medical informatics: The processes and tools used for the analysis and dissemination of medical data through computerized systems.
Types of strabismus: The characteristics of the various types of strabismus such as esotropia and hypertropia.
Psychology: The human behaviour and performance with individual differences in ability, personality, interests, learning, and motivation.
Pathology: The components of a disease, the cause, mechanisms of development, morphologic changes, and the clinical consequences of those changes.
Paediatric psychology: Study of how psychological aspects can influence and impact illnesses and injuries in infants, children and adolescents.
First aid: The emergency treatment given to a sick or injured person in the case of circulatory and/or respiratory failure, unconsciousness, wounds, bleeding, shock or poisoning.
Anaesthetics: Anaesthetics is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of orthoptist.

Respond to changing situations in health care: Cope with pressure and respond appropriately and in time to unexpected and rapidly changing situations in healthcare.
Educate on the prevention of illness: Offer evidence-based advice on how to avoid ill health, educate and advise individuals and their carers on how to prevent ill health and/or be able to advise how to improve their environment and health conditions. Provide advice on the identification of risks leading to ill health and help to increase the patients’ resilience by targeting prevention and early intervention strategies.
Inform policy makers on health-related challenges: Provide useful information related to health care professions to ensure policy decisions are made in the benefit of communities.
Contribute to continuity of health care: Contribute to the delivery of coordinated and continuous healthcare.
Use e-health and mobile health technologies: Use mobile health technologies and e-health (online applications and services) in order to enhance the provided healthcare.
Empathise with the healthcare user: Understand the background of clients` and patients’ symptoms, difficulties and behaviour. Be empathetic about their issues; showing respect and reinforcing their autonomy, self-esteem and independence. Demonstrate a concern for their welfare and handle according to the personal boundaries, sensitivities, cultural differences and preferences of the client and patient in mind.
Test visual acuity: Test patients` visual acuity, perception of depth colour, and ability to focus and coordinate the eyes.
Record healthcare users’ progress related to treatment: Record the healthcare user’s progress in response to treatment by observing, listening and measuring outcomes.
Diagnose problems of the visual system: Identify and diagnose problems of the visual system, such as those related to binocular vision, ocular motility, amblyopia or lazy eye, strabismus or squint, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, assessing the sensory state of the eye.
Manage healthcare users’ data: Keep accurate client records which also satisfy legal and professional standards and ethical obligations in order to facilitate client management, ensuring that all clients’ data (including verbal, written and electronic) are treated confidentially.
Receive patient referrals with eye conditions: Receive patient referrals from the eye casualty and neurology departments, eye clinics, general practitioners, health visitors and community clinics.
Deal with emergency care situations: Assess the signs and be well-prepared for a situation that poses an immediate threat to a person’s health, security, property or environment.

Conduct specialised orthoptic tests: Conduct specialised tests such as colour vision test, Ishihara, Farnsworth, D-15, Pseudo-isochromatic colour plates, ophthalmic photography and corneal light reflex testing, analysing the information obtained from these tests to determine the effects of general pathology on the eyes and effects of eye diseases.
Provide health education: Provide evidence based strategies to promote healthy living, disease prevention and management.
Communicate effectively in healthcare: Communicate effectively with patients, families and other caregivers, health care professionals, and community partners.
Undertake healthcare examination: Assess the healthcare user’s physical state, taking detailed information on previous injuries, surgery, general health, resources and lifestyle into account.
Follow clinical guidelines: Follow agreed protocols and guidelines in support of healthcare practice which are provided by healthcare institutions, professional associations, or authorities and also scientific organisations.
Advise on healthcare users’ informed consent: Ensure patients/clients are fully informed about the risks and benefits of proposed treatments so they can give informed consent, engaging patients/clients in the process of their care and treatment.
Promote ocular health: Participate in activities that contribute to promoting ocular health and preventing ocular problems.
Supervise orthoptic treatments: Supervise orthoptic treatments by using occlusion therapy for amblyopia, prism therapy, and exercises of convergence and fusional ability where indicated.
Comply with quality standards related to healthcare practice: Apply quality standards related to risk management, safety procedures, patients feedback, screening and medical devices in daily practice, as they are recognized by the national professional associations and authorities.
Comply with legislation related to health care: Comply with the regional and national legislation that is relevant to one`s work and apply it in practice.
Listen actively: Give attention to what other people say, patiently understand points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times; able to listen carefully the needs of customers, clients, passengers, service users or others, and provide solutions accordingly.
Apply health sciences: Apply a broad range of bio-medical, psycho-social, organisational, educational, and societal aspects of health, disease, and healthcare to improve healthcare services and to improve quality of life.
Advise patients on vision improvement conditions: Advise patients with low vision on strategies to enhance their sight, such as use of magnification and lighting equipment.
Adhere to organisational guidelines: Adhere to organisational or department specific standards and guidelines. Understand the motives of the organisation and the common agreements and act accordingly.
Work in a multicultural environment in health care: Interact, relate and communicate with individuals from a variety of different cultures, when working in a healthcare environment.
Perform vision rehabilitation: Maximise the remaining sight in people with low vision using rehabilitation strategies and magnification aids.
Promote inclusion: Promote inclusion in health care and social services and respect diversity of beliefs, culture, values and preferences, keeping in mind the importance of equality and diversity issues.
Interact with healthcare users: Communicate with clients and their carer’s, with the patient’s permission, to keep them informed about the clients’ and patients’ progress and safeguarding confidentiality.
Provide treatment strategies for challenges to human health: Identify possible treatment protocols for the challenges to human health within a given community in cases such as infectious diseases of high consequences at the global level.
Ensure safety of healthcare users: Make sure that healthcare users are being treated professionally, effectively and safe from harm, adapting techniques and procedures according to the person’s needs, abilities or the prevailing conditions.
Apply organisational techniques: Employ a set of organisational techniques and procedures which facilitate the achievement of the goals set. Use these resources efficiently and sustainably, and show flexibility when required.
Develop a collaborative therapeutic relationship: Develop a mutually collaborative therapeutic relationship during treatment, fostering and gaining healthcare users’ trust and cooperation.
Apply context specific clinical competences: Apply professional and evidence based assessment, goal setting, delivery of intervention and evaluation of clients, taking into account the developmental and contextual history of the clients, within one`s own scope of practice.
Carry out orthoptic treatments: Carry out orthoptic treatments by using occlusion therapy for amblyopia, prism therapy, and exercises of convergence and fusional ability where indicated.
Work in multidisciplinary health teams: Participate in the delivery of multidisciplinary health care, and understand the rules and competences of other healthcare related professions.
Accept own accountability: Accept accountability for one`s own professional activities and recognise the limits of one`s own scope of practice and competencies.
Provide therapy of the visual system: Apply suitable orthoptic, pleoptic and optic treatment methods, using equipment such as lenses (`training glasses`), prisms, filters, patches, electronic targets, or balance boards, and suggest and implement adaptation options or possibilities for coping with everyday life, supervising in-office reinforcement exercises and instructing the patient to execute at-home exercises.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of orthoptist. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

Pedagogy: The discipline that concerns the theory and practice of education including the various instructional methods for educating individuals or groups.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of orthoptist. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

Select intraocular lenses for surgery: Measure and select intraocular lenses to be surgically implanted.
Record healthcare users’ billing information: Record the healthcare user`s information for the billing of provided medical services.
Prescribe corrective lenses: Prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, according to measurements and tests conducted.
Participate in medical inventory control: Participate in inventory control and safe storage of materials and re-order supplies.
Employ foreign languages for health-related research: Use foreign languages for conducting and collaborating in health-related research.
Employ foreign languages in care: Communicate in foreign languages with healthcare users, their carers, or services providers. Use foreign languages to faciliate patient care according to the needs of the patient.

ISCO group and title

2267 – Optometrists and ophthalmic opticians





  1. Orthoptist – ESCO
Last updated on August 8, 2022