Undergrad Catalog

Orthoptics (ORTH)

Program Options: B.A., B.S.

The orthoptics major and certification prepares students to be part of the healthcare team focused on providing eye care to children with eye problems and adults with eye muscle problems (often leading to double vision). This eye care team is typically led by pediatric ophthalmologists (physicians with specialty training in eye care and extra fellowship training in pediatric eye care and strabismus) and may also include optometrists (non-physician eye care professionals who provide primary eye care) and ophthalmic medical technicians (such as ophthalmic assistants, technicians and technologists). The role of the orthoptist in the clinic is to perform a sensorimotor examination, a component of a complete ophthalmic examination, through which visual acuity, binocular function and ocular motility (eye alignment) are assessed. The orthoptist evaluates the results of the sensorimotor examination, derives a differential diagnosis and makes treatment suggestions to the ophthalmologist. Upon the final recommendation of the ophthalmologist, the orthoptist may be asked to implement non-surgical treatment plans and provide follow-up care. Orthoptists focus on the treatment of visual disorders such as amblyopia (reduced vision in one or both eyes), strabismus (misalignment of the eyes) and diplopia (double vision). Treatment might include patching the strong eye to improve the vision in the weak eye, eye exercises to strengthen weak eye muscles or prisms in glasses to eliminate double vision. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are crucial. Creativity and critical thinking is important to successful orthoptic practice, since young patients often require special handling to feel comfortable during the examination and adults often have very complex problems that are not easily identified.

The orthoptics program engages students in eye care theory courses, clinical experiences and St. Catherine University's liberal arts courses. Students who successfully complete the orthoptics program will be eligible to become certified orthoptists (C.O.) and, after a year of full time work as an orthoptist, certified ophthalmic technicians (C.O.T.).

The orthoptic program was recently reviewed and granted initial accreditation by the American Orthoptic Council.

Admission to the Major
Several routes of entry into the orthoptic major are available. All students must complete an application. Priority admission is given to students who submit materials by the specified April 1 deadline.

1) Enter through a bachelor’s degree program. Current St. Catherine University students and transfer students may apply to the program during their sophomore year. All prerequisite courses must be completed, or be scheduled for completion by the end of the spring semester with a minimum GPA of 3.0.

2) Enter from an accredited ophthalmic technician program. (Current St. Catherine University students in the ophthalmic technician program or students from other accredited ophthalmic technician programs.)

3) Enter as a certified ophthalmic technician without a degree. (Certified ophthalmic technicians who were trained on the job.)

Admission criteria for the major

1) Submission of the application to the program by April 1st (rolling admission following this date)
2) Prerequisite GPA of 3.0
3) Overall GPA of 3.0. Students who are ineligible for the major because of their GPA may be reconsidered on an individual basis by petition.
4) Two letters of recommendation
5) Interview with program faculty
6) Completion of prerequisite course work

Current ophthalmic technician program students must submit a recommendation from the program director and one clinical supervisor. Application to the major is generally completed in the second year of the ophthalmic technician program.

Graduates of an ophthalmic technician program must submit the following:

  • Evidence of completion of an A.A.S degree from an ophthalmic technician or technologist program from a regionally accredited educational institution
  • Evidence of current certification from the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) as a COT or COMT
  • In addition, an entrance examination may be required to demonstrate knowledge of the didactic areas covered by the SCU ophthalmic technician courses
  • At least one year of full-time work in an ophthalmic clinical setting is recommended

Prerequisite course work:
PSYC 1001 General Psychology
BIOL 2510 Human Anatomy
BIOL 2520 Human Physiology

Major Requirements:

Required orthoptics courses:
ORTH 3000 Ophthalmic Concepts for Orthoptists I
ORTH 3010 Ocular Motility I
ORTH 3020 Ocular Motility II
ORTH 3100 General Ophthalmic Clinical Skills Practicum
ORTH 3150 Ophthalmic Concepts for Orthoptists II
ORTH 3800 Clinical Externship I (2 cr)
ORTH 4010 Ocular Motility III
ORTH 4020 Ocular Motility IV Seminar
ORTH 4000 Clinical Externship II
ORTH 4100 Clinical Externship III (6 cr)
ORTH 4200 Final Residency (0 cr)                            

Required supporting courses:
PSYC 2025 Lifespan Developmental Psychology
Statistics (PSYC 2050, ECON 2250 or MATH 1080)
PHIL 2200 Ethics or PHIL 3400
PHYS 1020 Physics Concepts

Orthoptics majors meet the writing requirement for majors by completing ORTH 4020. You complete the Liberal Arts and Sciences Core Writing Requirement with three other writing-intensive courses (CORE 1000 or 2000, CORE 3990, and one additional writing-intensive course in another department).

Second Major Certificate in Orthoptics  

Students who have received a baccalaureate degree from St. Catherine University or another regionally accredited institution may pursue a second major at St. Catherine. To be awarded the second major (post-baccalaureate) certificate, you must complete all of the requirements for the major, including required supporting courses.  A minimum of one-half of the courses in the major must be completed in residence.  The residency requirement of 48 out of the last 64 credits does not apply to second major certificate students.

Federal Gainful Employment Disclosure Requirement for Certificates

Federal regulations require that all institutions disclose certain information and statistics regarding non-degree, certificate programs.  Click here for the data provided by St. Kate's.