From optometrist to nurse: a guide to eye health roles
Sightsavers’ work relies on thousands of skilled eye health staff worldwide. Here you can learn what each job involves, and how their knowledge and skill helps us to change lives.
What does each role involve?
These medical doctors specialise in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists are trained to perform eye surgery and can diagnose and treat eye diseases. They also prescribe medication, spectacles and contact lenses. Meet Gladys
An optometrist’s main role is to perform eye tests to detect vision problems, or health issues such as high blood pressure. They offer advice, prescribe spectacles and refer patients for treatment. Read about optometry in India
The ophthalmic nurse
Ophthalmic nurses are nursing professionals who assess patients with eye issues, then provide initial care and first-aid treatment. If patients need further treatment, they are referred to an ophthalmologist. Meet Givemore
The ophthalmic clinical officer
Ophthalmic clinical officers provide basic medical care when doctors are not available. They treat simple conditions and carry out eye exams, working alongside ophthalmologists to help them see more patients. Meet Mr Ndalela
Meet the people behind the roles
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How we’re helping to improve eye health care
The right people
Many poorer countries have a major shortage of eye health staff.
Since 1950, we’ve trained more than 3,800 ophthalmic nurses and 1,000 cataract surgeons to treat people.
The right place
Most eye care staff are based in cities, leaving rural areas under-resourced.
To ensure remote communities are covered, we train local health workers so they can treat people in rural areas.
The right time
Populations continue to grow, yet it takes time to train eye health staff.
We help to develop the skills of mid-level eye health staff so work can be distributed between more people.