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Your nystagmus research questions answered – question 4

We asked a group of Nystagmus Network supporters what questions they would most like to put to nystagmus researchers. Then we found researchers to answer them.

Your questions were answered by Jay Self (JS), a Consultant Paediatric Ophthalmologist at University of Southampton and nystagmus researcher and Helena Lee (HL), a Consultant Ophthalmologist at University of Southampton and a nystagmus researcher

Question 4: How much would it cost to cure nystagmus?

(HL) The grant that I got, which isn’t going to cure even a fraction of nystagmus, was £1.4 million and that’s only the beginning. It’s not going to cure it completely.

(JS) So that’s one small clinical trial. The L-Dopa study is going to work for a subset of a subset of people with albinism. It may well not work in all of them. This is the first clinical trial and usually you need a few clinical trials to get things going. So we are talking about millions and millions and millions of pounds.

The Nystagmus Network is enormously grateful to Jay and Helena who gave up their time on a sunny Saturday afternoon to answer questions from the nystagmus community so openly and fully.

If you would like to donate to the Nystagmus Network nystagmus research fund you can do so here.

Orthoptist, Optometrist or Ophthalmologist?

With all those job titles beginning with ‘O’ it can be a bit confusing trying to work out who does what at the eye clinic. Here’s a handy guide from the British and Irish Orthoptic Society, BIOS:

Orthoptist, Optometrist or Ophthalmologist?

Aside from Orthoptists, there are a number of other professions working in eye health. Unhelpfully they also all begin with ‘O’! This is our brief guide to the main differences between Orthoptists, Optometrists and Ophthalmologists.

What is an Orthoptist?

Orthoptists are the experts in diagnosing and treating defects in eye movement and problems with how the eyes work together, called binocular vision. These can be caused by issues with the muscles around the eyes or defects in the nerves enabling the brain to communicate with the eyes.

They see patients with a wide range of conditions affecting their vision. They are trained to offer a range of treatments, including eye patches, eye exercises, prisms or glasses. They also commonly work with patients with neurological conditions, such as stroke, brain tumours or multiple sclerosis.

The majority of Orthoptists are employed by the NHS in hospitals or community eye services. Although many also work in rehabilitation centres and special and mainstream schools. They will often work in wider eye care teams, alongside Ophthalmologists and sometimes Optometrists.

You can find out more about Orthoptists here.

And how is this different from the other eye care professions?

Ophthalmologists are medically trained doctors that specialise in diseases and injuries in and around the eye. They act both as physicians, diagnosing and prescribing treatments, and surgeons, performing operations. They typically work in eye hospitals and hospital eye departments, often alongside Orthoptists.

Orthoptists will often work collaboratively with Ophthalmologists to investigate and manage diseases of the eyes, with Orthoptists specialising in non-surgical treatment. While Ophthalmologists, as medical doctors, are able to perform complex surgery prescribe a wider range of medicines.

More information can be found on the Royal College of Ophthalmologists website.

Optometrists are trained to examine the eyes to detect defects in vision, signs of injury, ocular diseases or abnormality. They also identify the signs of problems with general health, such as diabetes of high blood pressure. All Optometrists are able to offer clinical advice, prescribe glasses or contact lenses and refer patients for further treatment. They typically work in high street opticians, carrying out eye examinations, but some also work in hospitals or community clinics.

Whereas an Orthoptist is concerned with how the eyes work together and interact with the brain to create vision, Optometrists are primarily focused on the examination of the eye itself.

More information can be found on the College of Optometrists website.

Dispensing opticians are trained to advise on and fit glasses according to a prescription provided by an Optometrist or specialist Ophthalmologist. They are skilled in offering advice on lenses for specific purposes, such as night driving, UV protection or sports and safety wear.

More information can be found on the Association of Dispensing Opticians website.