An Orthoptist is a key member of the eye care team (Ophthalmologists, Optometrists and eye Nurses) who are trained to investigate, diagnose and treat visual problems and/or eye movement disorders in adults and children.

Orthoptists are hospital based and provide services in the community where they see patients with:

  • Squints
  • Amblyopia (lazy eye)
  • Ptosis (eye lid droop)
  • Childhood Cataracts
  • Double Vision
  • Eye movement problems i.e. due to stroke, trauma around the eye, congenital conditions

Orthoptists are responsible for vision screening in Primary 1 children in Northern Ireland This service is led by Orthoptists and delivered by school nurses. 

How to access the service

Orthoptics is available in four settings:

In hospital (inpatient) - The doctor in charge can organise an Orthoptist to assess any patient they feel necessary.

At hospital (Outpatient) - A child or adult can be referred to the Hospital Orthoptist by their GP or Optician.

In the Community - The health visitor or school nurse can refer to the Community Orthoptist to determine if Orthoptic treatment is needed. If so, they then refer the child onto the Mater or Royal Victoria Hospital for further treatment.

Regional Access Eye Service - Patients with sudden onset double vision are seen by an Orthoptist in conjunction with Casualty eye doctors.

Location of Service


Royal Victoria Hospital (028) 9063 3188

Mater Hospital (028) 9080 2579


East Belfast
The Arches Centre

West Belfast
Beech Hall


North Belfast

In the event of an enquiry about Orthoptics in Community Clinics please contact Jane Hanley (Head of the Orthoptic Department) on (028) 9063 3188 or (028) 9063 4369 or e-mail: jane.hanley@belfasttrust.hscni.net

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  What Should I do if my child has a squint?
A:  Contact your Health visitor, school nurse, GP or Optometrist and get referred to nearest Orthoptic department.

Q:  What should I do if my child is complaining of blurred vision?
A:  See local optometrist if glasses do not improve vision seek referral to Hospital eye service.

Q:  I woke up with Double vision and it’s not going away?
A:  Contact GP /Optometrist and get referred into Regional Access Eye service.

External links

Amblyopia (Lazy Eye): For more information go to http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Lazy-eye/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Strabismus (Squint): For more information go to http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/squint/pages/introduction2.aspx

Diplopia (Double Vision): For more information go to http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Double-vision/Pages/Introduction.aspx

British Orthoptic Society: For more information go to http://www.orthoptics.org.uk/