Orthoptics Department

The department is staffed by a team of five Orthoptists who co-ordinate ten sessions per week.

What is an orthoptist?

Orthoptists are university trained, allied health care practitioners who specialise in disorders of eye movements and diagnostic procedures relating to disorders of the eye and visual system.

Orthoptists specialise in assessing the vision and eye movement of newborns and children.

The Orthoptic Department at Sydney and Sydney Eye Hospital provides expert assistance for patients in the following areas:

•assessment of babies/children suspected of having strabismus
•vision assessment of children
•management of amblyopia
•assessment and relief of diplopia
•assessment and treatment of eye strain symptoms and reading problems
•GDx nerve fibre analysis – measurement of nerve fibre layer in patients suspected of having glaucoma
•Humphrey field tests
•colour vision testing (not screening)

The Orthoptic Department sends all referring sources a report on their patients’ diagnosis and management plan.


Orthoptists specialise in assessing the standard of visual acuity in children from birth onwards. This is done using specifically designed tests, which are suitable for each age group. Many of these tests can be used on babies, non-verbal and illiterate children.



Amblyopia is a reduction in the visual acuity of one or both eyes due to an interruption to normal visual development. It is important to treat Amblyopia, preferably before age seven or earlier to gain optimum improvement. The orthoptist suggests and implement treatment plans for amblyopia, which may involve occlusion therapy (patching) if necessary.


Strabismus (squint, turn or lazy eye) refers to a misalignment of the eyes (i.e. when both eyes are not looking in the same direction).

Strabismus can occur at any time but commonly presents at:
•during first 3-5 years of life
•after illness

Children do not grow out of Strabismus, and Strabismus is recognised as one of the main defects preventing ‘normal’ visual development.


Diplopia (double vision) can occur for many different reasons, including the following:
•neurogenic: 3rd, 4th or 6th nerve palsy.
•myogenic : Multiple Sclerosis (MS), myasthenia gravis, etc.
•mechanical : blow out fracture, thyroid eye disease, etc.

Diplopia may be horizontal, vertical, torsional or a combination of these. The Orthoptist can help with the initial diagnosis of the eye movement disorder and manage patients with diplopia. Often temporary prisms are fitted to the patient's glasses to relieve diplopia (prism therapy). The orthoptist closely monitors the prism therapy as diplopia often changes and can resolve in some cases over time.

Asthenopia (Eye Strain)

Eye strain symptoms vary but generally include; frontal headaches, double vision, diplopia and difficulty changing focussing distances.

The orthoptist implements an eye exercise program if required to improve the patient’s use of their eyes together and to relieve symptoms.

Colour Vision

Orthoptists test for colour vision defects, but do not perform occupational colour vision screening.

GDx - nerve fibre analysis

The orthoptic team undertake nerve fibre analysis of patients suspected of having glaucoma.

Visual Field Testing

Visual field test using Humphrey, Goldmann or Bjerrum are also performed by orthoptists.