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Our aims

To ensure that the NHS is able to achieve the best possible health outcomes for patients and service users, BIOS welcomes the opportunity to work in partnership with GPs and their consortia. The BIOS is part of the UK Vision Strategy Group and contributes to the GP Eye Health Network Heads GP Eye Health Network Nov13.pdf

What is BIOS?

BIOS is the professional and educational body for the UK and Republic of Ireland and BOS is the Trades Union body for the UK. Orthoptics is a small profession of fewer than 2,000 in the British Isles; its all-graduate workforce comes from two universities, Liverpool and Sheffield and, in time, Glasgow Caledonian. These universities provide a workforce for all four UK countries and the Republic of Ireland. The workforce is predominantly female with many working part-time and in the NHS. Orthoptists deal with patients of all ages from premature babies who need visual assessment to the elderly who may have double vision due to age-related macular degeneration or ocular muscle difficulties.

What do orthoptists do?

Orthoptists diagnose and manage disorders of binocular vision and mainly work in the NHS. We assess and manage patients of all ages and work in various settings - independently and in multidisciplinary teams - and the work includes:

·         Assessing babies and small children for defects of vision including children with special needs

·         Treating adults with double vision associated with other conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, neurological conditions e.g. multiple sclerosis

·         Ensuring speedy rehabilitation of patients who have suffered stroke and acquired brain injuries and have vision problems

·         Diagnosing and monitoring glaucoma - a long term eye condition

·         Assessing patients before and after surgery for cataracts and visually impaired patients for aids

Orthoptists are ideally placed to ensure effective services for patients.  Our versatility provides exceptional value for money as part of the eye healthcare team.

Vision Screening

The British and Irish Orthoptic Society supports screening for the detection of visual problems in accordance with national recommendations.1

Statements on Vision Screening

BIOS Vision Screening Statement 250815.pdf

BIOS Screening recommendations August 2014 (1).pdf

The UK National Screening Committee (NSC) recommended that screening for visual impairment between 4 and 5 years of age should be offered by an orthoptic-led service.2  The aim of this screening is to identify children with amblyopia at an age where treatment has the potential to improve vision. Screening will also identify children with reduced vision due to squint and/ or refractive error, which have not been picked up by a parent, GP or health visitor earlier in life.

BIOS have developed recommendations and tools that support orthoptic-led delivery of vision screening of children aged 4- 5 years.  BIOS recommendations are evidence-based in accordance with the NSC guidance, and provide the standardising approach to screening outlined by the NSC.


1.       BIOS Guidelines on Vision Screening in children, 2014

2.       National Screening Committee, 2013.  http://www.screening.nhs.uk/vision-child


What do patients say?

Emma's Story – Single Vision Restored: Giving Independence Back

I felt compelled to write to you to thank you for the outstanding work that you and you colleagues carry out at the Orthoptic Clinic, King's College Hospital, London.

At my very first meeting, I was diagnosed double vision, had prisms fitted to glasses which allowed single vision, for the first time in 16 months. On subsequent visit, thanks to the sheer determination of your colleague, the prisms were when vision tweaked to allow single vision. I am now able to see in single vision for 80% of the day. This has made such a considerable difference to my life. I can walk short distances without a walking stick and with correct head positioning, can now cross roads with confidence. I can read text clearly and feel more confident when going out – which is considerable difference as for the last 16 months my vision has left me virtually housebound.

Of everything that has happened to me, losing my vision has been the most debilitating. I think we all take our sight for granted, i.e. walking, crossing roads, dog walking, or going to the shop. Double vision had made simple household tasks impossible; pouring a kettle of boiling water, resulted in a scalded right hand. Crowded, busy areas became danger zones, to many hazards to much disorientation. Therefore I stayed indoors, where I was safe.

In the last 16 months I fell over so many times because I haven’t been able to see kerbs, raised paving slabs, stairs. My glasses create single vision, but they have also allowed me to rebuild my life. A “new life” where I can put the past in the past and concentrate on my “new future”. This is all due to the wonderful work carried out in the department – my only regret is that I didn’t know you existed otherwise I would’ve contacted you earlier, rather than suffering in silence.

You have advised that my vision problem is complex and will take at least 6 months before any results. I know that I now have the support of your department in my rehabilitation, which after 16 months means I no longer need to live in isolation. Thank you for giving me back my life.

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