Orthoptics

Orthoptics refers to a discipline dealing with the detection, diagnosis and management of patients with eye disorders such as nystagmus, binocular vision, and amblyopia.
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Our services

The Orthoptic Department provides the following services:

What is an Orthoptist?

An Orthoptist deals with patients of all ages but has a particular interest and expertise in the very young and the elderly as these have a higher incidence of ocular pathology. Orthoptists detect defects in visual acuity, squints (strabismus), near vision anomalies and binocular vision anomalies in young children, which if left untreated can affect the development and function of the visual system.

Orthoptists are specially trained professionals who identify, treat and give advice to patients who experience  visual problems relating to head injury, stroke, neurological and degenerative neurological  impairments, endocrine and systemic conditions, trauma to the face and brain tumours.  These patients may experience many visual symptoms including double vision, loss of the field of vision, abnormal eye movements and difficulties reading or performing normal visual tasks.

Orthoptists are Allied Health professionals (AHP’s) and are registered with the HCPC.

Orthoptics Team.jpg

Paediatric Orthoptic Services

We have a team of Orthoptists who specialise in assessing and treating children with special educational needs (SEN) and visual impairment who attend special schools and child development centres.  It is essential that these children have any visual function problems detected as early as possible to ensure their learning can be tailored to their particular needs.  Up to 80% of children with special needs have associated visual difficulties and the Orthoptists work within a multi-disciplinary team to maximise the potential of these children. We also assess and support children in mainstream school with visual impairment and work closely with the teachers for the visually impaired.

Children who are not progressing at school and have difficulties with reading, writing and spelling can access our specialist team of Orthoptists in the Visual Processing Clinic.  Children have their visual perception skills assessed alongside visual educational tests which identify any defects of visual processing which may be contributing to their difficulties at school. The Orthoptists work very closely with the SENCO, teachers at school, occupational therapy and education psychology teams to ensure children are supported with any visual therapy or advice that may help their learning.

We provide a vision screening programme to reception class children in Warrington (children in the Halton area are screened by a different team).  Early identification of reduced vision or binocular vision defects allows treatment to be effective whilst a child’s visual system is developing.  There is a critical period of time in which treatment to improve the level of vision in a child must be undertaken before treatment is no longer effective and leaves permanent visual loss. This critical period is treatment before the age of 8 years old in most cases.

Babies who are born prematurely or of low birth weight are 3 times more likely to have a squint, require glasses or have other visual problems than babies born at term. The Orthoptists assess these children to detect and treat any visual problems early.

 

Stroke services

We provide an Orthoptic stroke service at Warrington Hospital. Every patient who is admitted with a stroke has a specialist Orthoptic assessment to detect any visual complications. Patients are seen on the ward, as an outpatient, care home or as a home visit for those who are housebound.

Visit our Orthoptic Stroke Service by clicking here for more information.

Clinical Education

The Orthoptic department is a teaching department committed to clinical education for undergraduate orthoptists and provides clinical placements to students from the University of Liverpool.

 

Our facilities

We provide Orthoptic led clinics at Warrington and Halton. Visual processing clinics are held at Widnes ( Health care resource centre),Warrington hospital and Halton hospital. Currently all Consultant led clinics which require Orthoptic support are held at Warrington hospital.

We aim to see children as near to home as possible and offer appointments at the following community clinics:

  • Birchwood (Warrington)
  • Beaconsfield ( Widnes)
  • Chapelfields (Widnes)
  • Culcheth (Warrington)
  • Grappenhall (Warrington)
  • Halton Hospital
  • Health Care Resource Centre (Widnes)
  • Orford (Warrington)
  • Penketh (Warrington)
  • Westbrook (Warrington)
  • Woolston (Warrington)

Joint Orthoptic /Optometry clinics are held at:

  • Child development centre – Orford
  • Westbrook clinic
  • Penketh clinic
  • Halton Hospital
  • Beaconsfield clinic

Children with special educational needs or who may be under the community paediatricians are seen at:

  • Ashley School
  • Brookfields school
  • Child development centre – Orford (Sandy lane)
  • Child development centre – Woodview (Widnes)
  • Cavendish school
  • Chesnut Lodge school
  • GreenLane School
  • Foxwood School

The Orthoptic teams visit all 69 primary schools in Warrington to screen children in the reception class as part of the visual screening programme.

Who's in the team?

We have a team of 16 Orthoptists, three Orthoptic assistants and four administrators.

Orthoptists:

  • Sonia MacDiarmid - Joint Head Orthoptist Lead for Adult services and Ophthalmology audit and clinical governance
  • Tom Lomas - Joint Head Orthoptist Lead for Paediatric Orthoptic services
  • Kathryn Whitfield – Advanced Orthoptist, Lead for Visual processing disorder (VPD) service
  • Judy De’Bell  - Advanced Orthoptist, Warrington Lead for Special educational needs service (SEN)
  • Frances Midgley - Advanced Orthoptist, Halton lead for SEN
  • Kate Greenwood - Advanced Orthoptist Training Lead and VPD team
  • Alysha Budd – Advanced Orthoptist Lead for Stroke services
  • Lindsay Grant – Specialist Orthoptist VPD team
  • Tracey Parry – Specialist Orthoptist, SEN team
  • Faye Mather – Specialist Orthoptist, Stroke Team
  • Katy Horabin – Specialist Orthoptist, Lead for vision screening, VPD team and SEN team
  • Rob Gargon Specialist Orthoptist, Glaucoma and SEN Team
  • Jennifer Shave – Specialist Orthoptist, Non- medical injector and VPD team
  • Clara Cassidy – Orthoptist
  • Mahira Razzaq – Orthoptist
  • Emma Rowett – Orthoptist
  • Orthoptic Assistants:

  • Sheila Dodd
  • Pauline Thelwell
  • Chloe-Lise McGuffie
  • Kath Hankey

Administrators:

  • Kath Hankey
  • Andrea Woolridge
  • Chloe-Lise McGuffie
  • Dawn North
Referral information

Referrals are received into the department from GP’s, opticians, health visitors, school health advisors, SENCO’s, teachers, teachers for the visually impaired, rehabilitation officers, paediatricians, all other therapists and health care professionals.

Referrals are triaged by a qualified Orthoptist and may be directed to an ophthalmology led clinic, Orthoptic led clinic, community clinic or to one of the specialist teams. 

Referral form in patient wards can be done via ICE.

 

Main Contact information

Warrington Hospital

Orthoptic Department
Daresbury Wing
Lovely Lane
Warrington
WA5 1QG

Appointment enquiries
01925 662772

Head of department

Sonia.macdiarmid@nhs.net

Tom.lomas@nhs.net

Ext 5636/2489

Warrington Hospital

Halton General Hospital