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Study Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics

Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics is a branch of medicine that looks after the eyes. See what it’s like to study the area, and if the career is for you.

An Orthoptist with the NHS shining a light into a patient's eye

CONTENTS

  1. What’s Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics?

  2. What Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics degrees can you study?

  3. What do you need to get onto an Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics degree?

  4. What topics does an Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics degree cover?

  5. How will you be assessed?

  6. Why study Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics?

  7. What do Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics graduates earn?

  8. What jobs can you get as an Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics graduate?

  9. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  10. Similar subjects to Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics

  11. Have any questions?

What’s Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics?

Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics deal with the anatomy, physiology and diseases that affect the eyes, including performing operations on them. Several disorders can affect the eyes only, such as blindness, cataracts and glaucoma.

Professional roles include:

  • Optometrist, who examines eyes and looks for defects in vision
  • Ophthalmologist, a doctor who specialises in disease and injury and often performs operations
  • Orthoptist, who looks at how the eye works with the brain to create vision

What Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics degrees can you study?

Undergraduate degrees in Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics include: 

  • Ophthalmic Dispensing BSc
  • Orthoptics BSc/BMedSci
  • Optometry BSc/BOptom/MOptom

Options may include an integrated foundation year or integrated master’s. Courses include practical placements.

Degree apprenticeships may also be available, where you can work and earn while qualifying. You’ll need to apply via an employer, and you won’t have access to student grants.

What do you need to get onto an Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics degree?

Entry requirements for an Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics degree at a university range from 120–136 UCAS points. Some courses may have lower or higher requirements, and not all unis base their offer on UCAS points. Qualifications may include:

  • A Levels: AAA–BBB
  • BTECs: D*DD–DDD (A Levels may also be required)
  • Scottish Highers: AAAAB–ABBB
  • International Baccalaureate: 36–32
  • Universities will usually ask that you have studied: two or three sciences (biology, chemistry, maths or physics) at an advanced or higher level

Other good subjects to have studied include:

  • Human biology, applied science or psychology
  • General studies A Level may not be accepted
  • You’ll also need five GCSEs (Grade C/4 or above) including in English, maths and science

Experience that would look good on your application:

  • Shadowing or talking to a professional in your chosen area – contact your local NHS service or high-street opticians
  • Work experience with an optician, orthoptic department, hospital or health clinic
  • Developing your interpersonal skills and rapport by volunteering with relevant client groups such as children, people with special needs or the elderly
  • Knowledge and interest in the role – check out the websites of professional bodies such as the British and Irish Orthoptics Society, College of Optometrists, Association of Optometrists

Other requirements for this subject include:

  • Pass in the practical element of sciences
  • Interview
  •  Because you'll be working with children or vulnerable adults, you'll need to complete Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) checks (PVG scheme in Scotland)

What topics does an Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics degree cover?

Typical modules for courses in this subject include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Clinical optometry skills
  • Enhanced pathology and therapeutics
  • Ophthalmic optics
  • Refraction and binocular vision
  • Vision and visual perception

How will you be assessed?

Courses are assessed in various ways, such as:

Assessment of practical and clinical performance

  • Case studies
  • Class tests
  • Essays
  • Exams
  • Group work
  • Presentations
  • Written reports

Why study Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics?

You’ll be able to help people improve their quality of life by spotting and treating eye disorders – potentially even serious neurological problems.

Career-specific skills:

  • Professional and clinical skills in patient care and the management of a range of eye conditions
  • Manual dexterity and technical skills in the use of equipment

Transferable skills:

  • Attention to detail
  • Communication
  • Critical thinking and decision making
  • Organisation
  • Problem solving
  • Research
  • Team working
  • Time management

Professional accreditation: 

  • Degrees in Optometry must be accredited by the General Optical Council and may also be accredited by the College of Optometrists
  • Degrees in Orthoptics must approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

What do Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics graduates earn?

Graduate optometrists in a high street chain could expect an entry-level salary of around £19,000, while orthoptists working in the NHS start off on around £25,500. However optometrists earn more as their career progresses, with some high street opticians reportedly paying up to £72,500.

What jobs can you get as an Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics graduate?

As well as optometrist or orthoptist, job roles could include business manager or vision science researcher.

Specialisms include:

  • Contact lenses
  • Paediatrics
  • Specific conditions, such as diabetes or glaucoma
  • Sports vision
  • Therapeutics

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Graduates with a first degree in a related discipline can take a graduate-entry pre-registration course to qualify as an orthoptist. Other postgraduate courses offer further specialisation or research opportunities. For example:

  • Clinical Ophthalmic Practice PGCert/PGDip/MSc
  • Eye and Vision Sciences MD
  • Optical Biology MPhil/PhD
  • Optometry MPhil/PhD
  • Therapeutic Prescribing for Optometrists PGCert

Similar subjects to Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics

Other subject areas that might appeal to you include:

Have any questions?

If you’ve any questions about studying Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics, you can email our experts at ask@thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk. We’ll be happy to hear from you!

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