Orthoptic Fellowship Programs

Orthoptic Programs Nationwide

Admission criteria vary from school to school, however; national regulations require completion of a baccalaureate degree prior to sitting for the national certifying exams. Students entering orthoptic programs may be recent college graduates, transfers from an associated allied health field or changing from an unrelated career. Most students have a basic science background although there are no required course prerequisites. The Graduate Record Examination is not required. Ophthalmic medical personnel, with current JCAHPO certification at the COT or COMT level, may also be eligible for advanced standing status in an Orthoptic Program. Applicants must meet the routine admission criteria of the training program and established requirements for AOC certification. Advanced standing is granted on a case-by-case basis by the American Orthoptic Council, based on the qualifications of the applicant. Advanced standing students must complete a minimum of 12 months of training in an accredited program, with the length of training to be determined by the Council.

Orthoptic Programs Nationwide

Programs in Canada

About the Program

The study of orthoptics follows a logical sequence of courses vital to the understanding of the visual system. Course work is integrated with hands-on clinical approach. The primary aim of the Orthoptic Program is to prepare students to become efficient members of the vision health care team. For two intensive years of instruction, orthoptic students interact with medical students, ophthalmology residents, fellows and medical professionals in a clinic setting.

Subjects Include


A thorough investigation of the structures of the human visual system with concentration on the anatomy of the eye and surrounding structures. A basic knowledge of human anatomy is recommended.


A basic introduction to the central and peripheral nervous systems and to the parts of the brain which are essential to vision and eye movements.


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The study of diagnostic and therapeutic drugs used in ophthalmology. The properties and reactions of specific agents is studied as well as the proper clinical indications for the prescription of specific ophthalmic drugs.

Diagnostic Testing & Measurement

An introduction to the clinical techniques necessary for an orthoptist to perform a diagnostic examination. The application and interpretation of specific testing procedures is covered in-depth throughout the course of study.

Systemic Diseases & Ocular Motor Disorders

Visual symptoms are often the presenting sign of a serious systemic illness. The pathogenesis, signs and symptoms of various disease processes are discussed. A systematic overview of the visual disorders encountered by the orthoptist is provided.

Principles of Surgery

Introduces the student to the essentials of pre and postoperative patient care. Provides an overview of the indications for surgery and the types of surgery performed by an ophthalmologist to correct eye alignment and eye movement disorders.

Basic Ophthalmic Exam Techniques

Orthoptic programs provide instruction in the principles of ophthalmic technical procedures such as refractometry, visual field testing, and contact lens fitting which are useful adjuncts to the specialized skills of an orthoptist. Some programs offer clinical proficiency in these technical skills while others focus primarily on theoretical concepts.

Ophthalmic Optics

Examines basic principles from the genesis and propagation of light to the laws of applied optics relative to ophthalmic lenses and prisms. A basic knowledge of algebra and physics is recommended.

Orthoptic Treatment

An introduction to the various forms of non-surgical treatment encompassing theoretic principles and clinical application.

Additional subject areas may include:

  • Principles of Genetics
  • Child Development
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Clinical Research Methods
  • Medical Writing