Who does what in eye health

There are a number of different professionals who may be involved in looking after your eye health. Some work in the community and some in hospital eye departments. If you have an eye condition, you can expect to have appointments with at least one of the following professionals.

Optometrists or ophthalmic opticians

Optometrists or ophthalmic opticians (often called opticians) usually work in high street practices or shops, or hospital eye departments.

They are qualified to examine your vision, prescribe glasses and detect eye conditions. If necessary, they can refer you to other health professionals. This referral might be done directly or via your GP (family doctor).

Optometrists are able to detect eye conditions and refer you to an ophthalmologist for diagnosis and treatment if it is needed. Optometrists are able to discuss your eye condition, how to look after your eyes and direct you to further support services if needed. Some optometrists may specialise in low vision and may help you with your low vision aids.

Dispensing opticians

Dispensing opticians are qualified to fit and supply glasses, contact lenses and low vision aids.

Orthoptists

Orthoptists are qualified to identify and treat certain eye conditions such as squints or double vision. They usually work in hospital eye departments and do lots of work with children, though they do work with people of all ages.

Ophthalmologists

Ophthalmologists are specialist eye doctors who diagnose, treat and monitor eye conditions with medication and surgery. They usually work in hospital eye departments or clinics (often called ophthalmology departments). 

Ophthalmologists are able to assess your vision and decide if your vision is eligible to be certified (CVI) and registered with your local social services.

Ophthalmic nurses

Ophthalmic nurses receive special training in eye conditions and diseases on top of their general training. They may perform some of the tests at the hospital and some ophthalmic nurse specialists may perform treatments for certain eye conditions.

Sight loss advisers or Eye Clinic Liaison Officers (ECLOs)

Sight loss advisers (also known as Eye Clinic Liaison Officers or ECLOs) are based in hospitals and provide a service for people who have been diagnosed with an eye condition. They are trained to help you deal with emotional and practical challenges you may face after you are diagnosed with an eye condition. This includes emotional support, quality information in accessible formats, help and information about the certification process, referrals for rehabilitation and referrals to the appropriate local and national services.

Find out more about sight loss advisers.

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