If you have a concern about a child or young person’s vision the first step is to arrange a visit to their local optician. If a visual impairment is identified they may go on to have a number of eye care medical professionals involved in their care – for more information about who the professionals may be and what they do please see below:
- A General Practitioner (GP) doctor – The doctor is often the first point of contact for many families. He/she can carry out a basic visual screening. They may then refer onto another professional if appropriate.
- Paediatrician – Medically qualified doctor who specialises in working with babies and children. They check the overall health of the patient. They can refer the child/young person to other specialists.
- Dispensing optician – Dispensing opticians fit glasses and contact lenses working from a prescription written by an ophthalmic practitioner or ophthalmologist. They also fit and dispense low vision aids. They do not test eyes.
- Optometrist – Optometrists are trained to recognise, treat and manage abnormalities and signs of some, but not all, eye diseases. They can examine the internal and external structure of your eyes to detect diseases. They may also test a person’s ability to focus and coordinate they eyes and see depth and colours accurately. Optometrists can prescribe and fit glasses, contact lenses and low vision aids.
- Ophthalmologist or Ophthalmic Surgeon – Medically qualified doctor, based in a hospital, who specialises in examining and diagnosing eye conditions. They provide treatment for defects/diseases/injuries of the eye. They can perform surgery and prescribe and administer medication.
- Orthoptists – Orthoptists usually work with Ophthalmologists in the investigation and treatment of various abnormalities of the eye function relating to the development of the visual system, such as squints and double vision. They provide functional instruction on therapies to help improve eye movements – they cannot prescribe medication.