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 and 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 or contact lenses 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 can 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.
Some optometrists have additional qualifications to manage some minor eye conditions, these are called independent prescribers.
Dispensing opticians are qualified to fit and supply glasses, and some have additional qualifications to fit contact lenses, and supply low vision aids.
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 are specialist 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 can assess your vision and decide if your vision is eligible to be certified (CVI) 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.
Eye Care Liaison Officers (ECLOs)
Eye Care Liaison Officers (ECLOs), also known as Eye Clinic Liaison Officers, 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.