Newcastle Eye Centre

Orthoptics Department

The Orthoptic Department provides both hospital and community based services, for Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside and Northumberland.

What is an Orthoptist and what do we do?

Orthoptists are 'Allied Health Professionals' registered with the Health Professions Council, the national regulatory body of health professionals. Orthoptists are trained to diagnose and treat squints, lazy eye (amblyopia) and ocular movement disorders. They assess, diagnose and manage disorders of binocular (two eyed) vision, and assess and manage patients of all ages.

Orthoptists regularly:

  • Assess babies and small children, including children with special needs for defects of vision 
  • Treat adults suffering from double vision associated with conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, neurological conditions eg multiple sclerosis
  • Assess patients who have suffered stroke and acquired brain injuries and have vision problems
  • Carry out measurements for squint surgery.

For further information, visit The British and Irish Orthoptic Society website.

Primary screening

Primary screening is provided in a variety of areas: screening for vision defects, squints or ocular motility (eye movement) defects for children aged four to five years old. Screening is performed at mainstream and special schools.

Secondary screening

Secondary screening clinics are provided in a variety of areas to screen children under the age of four in which there are concerns regarding vision defects, squints or ocular motility (eye movement). Parents can request referrals to be made if there is a strong family history of eye problems or if parents have concerns. Referrals are accepted from Health Visitors, GPs, Opticians, Paediatricians and School Nurses.

What is a squint?

A squint (sometimes known as strabismus) is a condition in which the eyes are misaligned (ie they are not both looking towards the same thing).

Someone who has a squint will look at things with one eye, while the other will look in a different direction. Sometimes this causes the person to see two of everything (double vision). The image from the deviated eye will be ignored.

What is amblyopia (lazy eye)?

Amblyopia is reduced vision to one or both eyes caused by a variety of factors, such as refractive error (glasses), squint, cataract or drooping eyelids.

Treatments given by Orthoptists

Treatment provided by Orthoptists usually involve:

  • Glasses
  • Patching the eye (sometimes called occlusion)
  • Prisms
  • Exercises

Where do we work?

The Orthoptic Department is based at the RVI in Newcastle and undertakes:

  • Orthoptic clinics
  • Paediatric clinics
  • Specialised Neuro-ophthalomology
  • Motility (eye movement) clinics
  • Thyroid clinics/Oculoplastics
  • Maxillo-Facial (jaw/face) treatment
  • Child Development Centre clinics

Outreach clinics

We also provide outreach services at:

  • Alnwick Infirmary
  • Berwick Infirmary
  • Hexham General
  • Low Fell Medical Centre
  • Wansbeck General
  • Walkergate Park (Stroke and Head Injury unit)
  • North Tyneside - at various clinics including:
    • Albion Road Health Centre 
    • Dudley: John Willie Sams Centre 
    • Longbenton: Oxford Centre 
    • Monkseaton Heath Centre
    • North Shields: Riverside Heath Suite
    • Wallsend Health Centre, The Green

Primary Orthoptic Screening

We provide Primary Orthoptic Screening in primary schools throughout:

  • Gateshead
  • Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  • Northumberland

Secondary Orthoptic Screening

We provide Secondary Orthoptic Screening at local clinics throughout:

  • Gateshead
  • Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  • Northumberland
  • North Tyneside

Screening service contact numbers

  • Gateshead screening service: 0191 283 2528
  • Newcastle screening service: 0191 219 4670
  • Northumberland screening service: 01670 564 042
  • North Tyneside screening service: 0844 811 8111, ext 4528

Research, Development and Education

We are regularly involved in a variety of national research trials and work with the Paediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group at the Mayo Institute in Rochester, Minnesota. We are a leading centre for research nationally and have presented various audits at national and international conferences working with colleagues from across the world.

We are committed to our professional development and regularly carry out departmental audits, reviewing our current practices and continually developing and implementing new policies and procedures in line with up-to-date research. 

We also provide clinical teaching to undergraduate Orthoptists and other health professionals.

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