Service Overview

Orthoptics is an allied health profession with a primary emphasis on the diagnosis and non-surgical management of eye problems that affect eye movement and the development of vision. Orthoptists see patients of all ages - from babies and children with a lazy eye or squint - to adults with double vision which may be caused by injury or health problems.

Ophthalmologists and optometrists are additional eye health care professionals.

Ophthalmologists are based in the hospital eye clinic. They are eye doctors and are responsible for assessing and treating disorders of the eye. This may involve medication or surgery. Optometrists are generally community based, but do at times work in hospitals. They are primarily responsible for assessing the focussing power of the eye and prescribing the appropriate glasses.

Orthoptists accept direct referrals from GPs, community optometrists, paediatricians and any other hospital-based medical professional.

Our team of 11 orthoptists cover the whole of Ayrshire and Arran and work in various sites:

  • University Hospital Crosshouse
  • University Hospital Ayr
  • Girvan Community Hospital
  • Arran War Memorial Hospital
  • Cumnock Health Centre
  • Ardrossan Health Centre
  • Dalry Health Centre
  • Nursery and Primary schools

In our department, we also have four Orthoptic support staff and three hospital optometrists.

Our areas of specialty include Paediatric and Adult Orthoptics.

Orthoptists work with patients of all ages. Many tests used by orthoptists are non-verbal and therefore accurate responses can still be obtained in the very young and the elderly, even if a communication problem exists.

The following website provides useful information about orthoptic care - www.squintclinic.com.

Information leaflets providing additional information regarding treatment that may be relevant to your orthoptic care are available in our information leaflets directory.


Vision is often affected following a stroke. The most common visual difficulties are double vision, reduced vision and visual field loss. The Ayrshire and Arran Orthoptic department has an established service to provide assessment and treatment for patients that suffer some form of visual impairment following a stroke.

Communication can also be impaired after a stroke. Many Orthoptic tests are non-verbal and therefore an accurate assessment of vision can still be obtained even if communication difficulties exist.

The following Quality Improvement Scotland (QIS) information leaflets provide additional information regarding visual difficulties following stroke.

  • Seeing after stroke
  • Orthoptic assessment - Visual inattention/neglect after stroke or brain injury
  • Orthoptic assessment - Visual field loss after stroke or brain injury
  • Orthoptic assessment - Reduced vision after stroke or brain injury
  • Orthoptic assessment - Double vision after stroke or brain injury

Children with Cerebral Visual Impairment

There are many children throughout Ayrshire and Arran who are registered visually impaired. Orthoptists undertake an assessment of their 'Functional Vision' which is the best vision they can use in day-to-day life. These visual assessments take place in a specialist paediatric clinic at University Hospital Crosshouse.

Visual Screening

Every pre-school child in Ayrshire and Arran is offered an eye test. Children are checked in nursery schools or at health centre or hospital clinics. Children who are unable to attend their pre-school assessment are assessed at primary one. It is important that children are assessed at this early stage to enable them to achieve their maximum visual potential.

Visual Field (VF) Assessment

Visual field is a term used for peripheral vision. These tests are usually run in conjunction with seeing the ophthalmologist as many eye problems such as glaucoma can cause you to lose part of your visual field. There is also a high incidence of losing a large part of your visual field after stroke.

Appointments and Clinics

Visual Stress Clinics (Meares Irlen Syndrome)

Meares Irlen Syndrome (MIS) is a visual perceptual problem which may cause discomfort when looking at a page of print. Some of the common symptoms include glare, headaches/sore eyes when reading, movement/jumble of print and tiredness. If you have any of these symptoms, your local GP or optometrist can refer you for assessment. If you are found to have MIS, a coloured sheet of plastic (overlay) placed over the print, may help the symptoms.

Visiting us

Orthoptic appointments can range from 20 minutes to an hour depending on what you are having done. If you are seeing more than one person, that is, an ophthalmologist or optometrist as well as the orthoptist, the appointment time will be significantly longer.

Getting to the hospital

If you are unable to get to the hospital on your own, Hospital Transport can assist. Please go to http://www.scottishambulance.com/WhatWeDo/booking.aspx to request patient transport.

General information

How to become an Orthoptist

Degree courses in Orthoptics can be undertaken at three universities in the UK:

The Ayrshire and Arran Orthoptic department is fully accredited for taking undergraduate students and runs a Flying Start program which mentors newly qualified orthoptists www.flyingstart.scot.nhs.uk