What is an Orthoptist?
Orthoptists are eye health professionals who care for people with eye disorders. Through a unique set of skills, Orthoptists play a crucial role in the assessment, diagnosis and non-surgical management of eye disorders. Diagnosing and treating as early as possible is crucial to improve eye health and maintain long term eye care.
Orthoptists specialise in eye movement disorders and eye diseases. ore specifically eye disorders such as strabismus (squint), double vision and amblyopia (lazy eye). In collaboration with the managing ophthalmologist, orthoptists are also involved in the care of people with cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, age related macular degeneration and systemic or neurological vision disorders. They also work in the disability sector supporting people with low vision.
At SensesWA, our orthoptists specialise in supporting children and adults with eye disorders causing permanent vision impairment or low vision, where glasses are unable to restore full vision.
How can an Orthoptist help me?
The orthoptist will complete a Functional Vision Assessment to determine what a person sees and how their vision can be improved and maximised. They can then recommend and prescribe glare aids and improved lighting as well as assistive technology which magnifies print and images.
The orthoptist can provide education to the individual, to their family, school and workplace that improves awareness and understanding of a person’s level of vision and what supports can be implemented to improve their access to information and overall eye health. For students, this can include recommendations of appropriate print size for reading, a suitable magnifying device or positioning in the classroom, as examples.
The orthoptist will adapt the assessment to meet a person’s eye developmental and communication level.
The orthoptist can provide information at important life stages, such as the commencement of day care and school or employment. They can provide updated information if the eye disorder is degenerative and if a person’s vision is subject to change.
How would I benefit from a Functional Vision Assessment?
- The orthoptist will initially complete a functional vision assessment and detailed report to examine the eyes. This will provide an understanding of how a particular eye disorder is impacting on visual functions such as reading and tabletop tasks, distance vision, depth perception, eye alignment, colour vision and contrast sensitivity. This assessment will also include a demonstration of assistive technology, lighting and glare aids to maximise a person’s vision. Optical or electronic magnifying devices can be trialled to enable optimal access to hardcopy information such as documents and product and pantry labels. Access to electronic information will also be considered.
- The orthoptist can advise on funding options for low vision aids prescribed.
- The orthoptist is a great source of information on all matters related to vision, and eye care and eye exercises.
What is involved in a Functional Vision Assessment?
The initial Functional Vision Assessment is typically conducted in the home and involves a number of tests:
- Visual acuity, or how clear and sharp your vision is.
- Visual field, or the area you see to the side, above, and below (known as the peripheral area of vision).
- Contrast sensitivity, or the ability of you to detect differences in greyness and between objects and your background.
- Colour vision, or the ability to detect different colours and also hues within a colour.
- Light sensitivity, or response to light (sunlight or artificial light).
Orthoptics is a discipline in eye healthcare specialising in the assessment, diagnosis and non-surgical management of eye disorders. For more information visit Orthoptics Australia.