Vision plays an important role in our lives as one our key senses. And without proper eyesight or care, it can hamper the way we go about our daily lives. It is critical for development in childhood, for education, employment and for the pursuit of leisure activities. Visual development can be assessed from birth and abnormalities are diagnosed in very early life. Did you know approximately five per cent of children globally have visual problems?1
The care and treatment of vision falls under ophthalmology, which is a branch of medicine dealing with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases of the eye and visual system.
Ophthalmology also includes a sub specialty called Orthoptics – which is the study or treatment of disorders of vision, Amblyopia (lazy eye), Ocular motility (eye movement), Binocular vision and Strabismus (eye alignment or squint). This includes the evaluation and non-surgical treatment of visual disorders caused by imbalance of the eye muscles.
To highlight the importance of Orthoptics, this blog focuses on explaining the sub-specialty particularly as we celebrate World Orthoptic Day. World Orthoptic Day is recognized on the first Monday of every June. It aims to raise awareness of the possible issues people face when they lack access to eye care.
Orthoptic therapy includes: eye movement control, Convergence and Accommodation insufficiency (alleviating problems with focusing at near), sustaining/simultaneous alignment at far, simultaneous/sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), and depth awareness.
Orthoptists are skilled in performing and in the interpretation of, a variety of diagnostic procedures where an underlying ophthalmological condition exists. Such as, perimetry (assessment of field of vision)
When a patient is referred for an orthoptics examination – the Orthoptists’ aim is to identify any underlying conditions that will allow them to find the most appropriate treatment for each individual case. An Orthoptist is a valuable hospital eye care team member that works alongside consultant eye surgeons (ophthalmologists), optometrists and nurses as well as with other multidisciplinary teams working with pediatric and adult specialist cases, such as stroke.2
Treatment may range from improvement of early childhood visual loss by patching therapy or using glasses, prisms to correct double vision caused by abnormal eye movements or Strabismus, exercises for problems with near focusing or preoperative and post-operative assessments for surgery on the eye muscles. The role also focuses extensively on differentially diagnosing the eye muscle condition, relieving symptoms and monitoring the progression of the condition.
We are proud to have among our team of specialists, Qatar’s first Orthoptist, Aqsa Syed. Ms. Syed is currently working as a Senior Specialist Orthoptist under the Chief of Ophthalmology – Dr. Kelly Hutcheson at Sidra. She is also working alongside the Neuro-Ophthalmology, Pediatric and Adult Ophthalmologists at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC). The team is currently seeing pediatric patients at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) until the official launch of Sidra’s Ophthalmology clinic in a few months. Patients referred to Sidra’s specialists, are currently coming from Primary Health Care Corporation.
Sidra’s Orthoptic services will include – Orthoptic clinics; consultant led ocular motility clinics; consultant led general Ophthalmology clinics and pre and post-operative clinics. Follow up vision screening of premature babies and low birth weight babies (retinopathy of prematurity) will also be offered.
For more information about Orthoptics or if you are considering a career in Orthoptics, please visit the below sites for more background.