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Orthoptic Education

Orthoptic training is a specialized branch of professional education in the field of allied health in ophthalmic medical care. Admission criteria vary from school to school depending on national regulations. For country specific information, we would suggest that you seek information on the national orthoptic websites. The study of orthoptics provides students with a strong foundation in vision sciences. Students are equipped with outstanding skills in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of ocular disorders to ensure strong clinical competence that enables them to be full participants in the interdisciplinary model of eye care. Orthoptic students during their course of study are exposed to a variety of clinical experience to prepare them for the nature of their professional practice.
Their program content includes topics on:

1. Anatomy and Physiology:
A thorough investigation of the human visual system with concentration of the anatomy and physiology of the eye and its surrounding structures is undertaken. An in depth study of coordination of eye movement and principals of visual perception are discussed. Pathologic processes, which may interfere with vision, are introduced.
2. Neuro Anatomy:
The central and peripheral nervous systems and the parts of the brain, which are essential to vision and eye movements are discussed.

3. Pharmacology:
The study of diagnostic and therapeutic drugs used in eye care, their properties and reactions of specific agents as well as proper clinical indications for prescriptions of specific ophthalmic medications are discussed.

4. Physical and Visual Optics:
Students analyze optical and ophthalmic principals, with an emphasis on measurement of light on its behaviour on image formation. Visual optics in physical and human modalities are investigated critically in clinical venues.

5. Diagnostic Testing and Measures:
Students learn clinical techniques necessary for the orthoptist to perform diagnostic examinations. The application and interpretation of specific testing procedures are covered in depth throughout the course of study.

6. Ocular Motor Disorders:
Extra ocular motility disorders and their treatment form the foundation for the understanding of misalignment. Students studying this content area will examine anomalies of eye movements and their aetiologies. Emphasis is placed on clinical presentation, formulation of diagnosis and patient prognosis of anomalous extra ocular motilities.

7. Ocular Manifestation of Systemic Disease:
As the eye is the window through which manifestations of neurological, vascular, inflammatory and general systemic disease can be evaluated, students who explore this content area will examine the signs and symptoms of ocular dysfunction and precursors, indicators, and consequences of systemic disease that must be evaluated for optimal health care.

8. Treatment of Ocular Motility Disorders:
Students will examine and discuss the management of ocular motility anomalies. They will look at the historic and current treatment modalities both surgical and non-surgical. Emphasis will be given to the determination and application of appropriate plans in case scenarios.

9. Treatment of Visual Disorders:
Orthoptic students will examine historic and current methods of treating amblyopia and other developmental anomalies of the visual system. The treatment of acquired anomalies as well as routing spectacle, surgical and refractive disorder will be covered.

10. Basic Ophthalmic Technology and Examination Techniques:
Students are provided with instruction in the principals of ophthalmic technical procedures such as refractometry, visual field testing, and contact lens fitting, which are adjuncts to the specialized skills of an orthoptist.

11. Low Vision:
This content area encompasses a broad spectrum of visual impairments, the pathophysiological basis, clinical manifestations and treatment modalities of vision loss will be addressed.

12. Vision Screening:
Students may be provided with principal screening design, an introduction to the latest in screening technology, definitions of ages and what to screen for and how to set up a screening program.

13. Orthoptic Research:
Orthoptic students may also study the theories and components of basic methodologies used in research design in the practice of orthoptic science. Students will learn how to critically evaluate orthoptic research as well as conduct their own.  

Additional areas of study may include:
Child development
Medical writing (medical documentation and reports)
Professional practice
Community health
Principals of genetics
Learning disabilities
Health psychology

Orthoptic Training Programs and Recognition by the IOA

The IOA recognizes national orthoptic programs based on the requirements and criterions, which can be found here in detail.