University of Technology Sydney

96029 Ocular Pathology 1

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2024 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Health (GEM)
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject takes a practice-oriented approach in applying the anatomical and physiological knowledge acquired in 96027 Eye and Visual Systems, to understanding common ocular conditions. In undertaking a problem-based learning approach to clinical case studies, students are introduced to the epidemiology, diagnostic procedures and management of some of the most prevalent ocular conditions including those arising from infective or inflammatory processes and age-related changes in anatomical structures. Fundamental concepts of investigation of ocular conditions explored in 96030 Introduction to Professional Practice are expanded to encompass the understanding and evaluation of new diagnostic technologies in the workplace. Learning in this subject is supported by the development of basic clinical skills relevant to ophthalmic investigation.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

29.4. Apply effective communication skills to the explanation of test procedures, clinical conditions and their common management procedures in terms that can be readily understood by a diverse range of patients, while demonstrating a respectful and compassionate approach to patient care, particularly for the elderly.
29.1. Apply knowledge of ocular anatomy and physiology to the alignment of presenting signs and symptoms with the diagnosis of common ophthalmic conditions.
29.3. Demonstrate beginner level clinical skills in common ophthalmic investigative methods and accurate interpretation of observations and test results, leading to the diagnosis of ophthalmic conditions.
29.5. Reflect on orthoptic practice in the context of multidisciplinary ophthalmic teams and more broadly within national and global communities, in particular, Indigenous populations.
29.2. Use sound clinical reasoning in the analysis of common ophthalmic cases to develop effective investigation plans leading to differential diagnoses and provisional management.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

The learning outcomes for this subject are as follows:

  • Demonstrate professional behaviour and expertise in the delivery of safe, competent and responsible practice for the benefit and care of patients and the wider community. (.01)
  • Reflect on knowledge, attitudes and skills acquired for the evaluation and integration of emerging evidence into practice, promoting the growth of personal and professional learning and the education of others. (.02)
  • Analyse and synthesise knowledge of health sciences concepts and theory, and apply skills of scientific research and clinical reasoning to support decision-making in orthoptic practice. (.03)
  • Engage in leadership and collaboration for the development of patient-focused clinical teams to ensure the integration of effective health care. (.04)
  • Be an advocate for their patient, demonstrating sound, ethical, compassionate and respectful patient-focused care while acknowledging responsibility for personal health and wellbeing. (.05)
  • Effectively and accurately communicate to patients, their families, carers and members of the healthcare team and contributing to the wider role of health education and its promotion, acknowledging and adapting communication to address cultural and linguistic diversity. (.06)
  • Demonstrate knowledge of health systems and concerns in national and global communities, with awareness of the social and cultural context of their practice reflected in a consultative approach to the formulation and implementation of management plans that meet the diverse needs of individuals and communities. (.07)
  • Demonstrate respect and value for diverse ways of knowing, being and doing, in particular recognising the diversity of Indigenous Australians while critically reflecting upon the impact of ongoing colonisation and its pervasive discourse on their health and wellbeing, and integrating this knowledge into practice. (.08)
  • Represent the role of the orthoptist in multidisciplinary environments and through self-awareness and acknowledgement of the contribution of other health practitioners, support an interdisciplinary approach to attain the best outcomes for patients. (.09)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

In addition, this subject contributes to the development of the following graduate attributes:

  • Lifelong learning
  • Professional capacity
  • Cultural Competence

Teaching and learning strategies

Preparation for learning: Students will be provided with the details of preparation activities each week through the subject’s Canvas site. Activities are designed to help students prepare for workshops, clinical practical’s and to help with overall understanding of the lecture material, students are encouraged to read designated chapters from appropriate textbooks, review journal articles and case study material or watch informative videos.

Active Lectures: Lectures provide an introduction to topic content each week and guest lecturers are invited to share their professional expertise on particular topic areas at relevant times throughout the session. Lectures are active and require students to engage and participate in analysis of case presentations and class discussion and other collaborative learning methods

Case based learning: Case-based learning is a form of problem-based learning (PBL) and a key learning strategy used in workshops. Workshop activities are intended to promote active engagement of students and provide an authentic case and practice-based learning experience though collaborative analysis and topic discussion. Through these activities, students develop skill in clinical reasoning and practice the application of theoretical knowledge gained in lectures and practical classes to differentially diagnose and develop appropriate plans for the investigation and management of patients with a variety of ocular conditions.

Collaborative Learning: As health professionals, teamwork is an essential skill to ensure patients are managed appropriately within interdisciplinary teams of health professionals. Teamwork skills are developed through collaboration with peers in active lectures and workshops, conducted in collaborative POD classrooms, as well as, when performing clinical skills in practical classes and through group assessment.

Reflective Learning: Students are encouraged to critically reflect on their learning throughout the subject to identify areas where they may improve their performance and to assist in the development of lifelong learning skills. Specific activities where reflective learning is encouraged are; self-evaluation of clinical skill performance in practical classes against OSCE marking criteria and skill achievement checklists and through post lecture/workshop review of learning questions on Canvas.

Practice-orientated learning: Clinical practical labs are conducted in small groups (max. 12 students) each week for this subject. In these small groups, structured learning is focused towards developing competency of clinical skills in the operational use of diagnostic equipment needed in the assessment, diagnosis and management of ocular conditions. Students are closely supervised and provided instruction and feedback as they participate in hands-on practice of skills including the use of specialised ophthalmic technology-based equipment.

Self-directed Practice: Clinical practical classes provide students with supervised practice of clinical skills, however, to attain a sufficient level of competency in clinical skills, self-directed practice outside of class time is required. As a general guide, students are expected to spend approximately 1 hour of self-directed practice in the orthoptic dedicated teaching clinics per subject. This is important preparation for clinical placement and your Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).

Ongoing Feedback: In-class verbal feedback is an important teaching and learning strategy employed throughout the subject. Students are provided with immediate feedback relating to the performance of clinical skills in clinical practical labs and relating to clinical reasoning and understanding of key concepts by staff facilitating case-based workshops. Opportunities for verbal formative feedback on assignments are given prior to final submission and detailed summative feedback following final submission. Mock OSCE exams are held to provide students with formative feedback on clinical skills prior to the OSCEs.

Content (topics)

Ocular Pathology 1 is a foundational subject in the ophthalmic stream of the Masters of Orthoptics course. The aim of this subject is to provide students with a fundamental understanding of common ophthalmic disorders, ophthalmic investigative procedures and basic therapeutic management of these conditions. Ocular Pathology 1 utilises knowledge and skills acquired concurrently in 96030 'Introduction to Professional Practice' and 96027 'Eye and Visual Systems' and provides the foundation for ophthalmic learning which is built upon in 96033 Ocular Pathology 2 in the following semester

Topics covered in this subject include: Age-related and idiopathic changes, infection & inflammation as well as conditions that affect the anterior segment of the eye and retina. Investigative diagnostic ophthalmic tests, their interpretation, available ophthalmic treatment options and management plans.


Assessment task 1: Group Assignment


As a clinician the ability to disseminate relevant and concise information to patients and other allied health teams is an important role of the orthoptist. Preparing resource material to then present to peers about a condition, requires the student to firstly conduct background research to then select and disseminate only the most significant and relevant information required for clinical application in patient investigation and management. A Group assignment is seen as one avenue to facilitate preparation for barriers that you may encounter and need to navigate through in the case of future workforce team dynamics


This task is aligned with the following subject learning objectives:

29.1, 29.2, 29.4 and 29.5

This task is aligned with the following course learning outcomes:

.01, .02, .03, .04, .05, .06, .07, .08 and .09

Type: Presentation
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 30%

The group presentation component should be no longer than 5 min in duration.
Resource materials and reflection combined should not exceed 4000 words.


See criteria provided in class and on Canvas.

Assessment task 2: OSCE (must-pass component)


An OSCE is an assessment format that enables students to demonstrate components of understanding, clinical and equipment skill, clinical reasoning and communication that are not readily assessed in a written format. The OSCE will enable the students to demonstrate a sound understanding of how to use ophthalmic diagnostic equipment and interpret results to aid in a diagnosis.


This task is aligned with the following subject learning objectives:

29.1, 29.2, 29.4 and 29.5

This task is aligned with the following course learning outcomes:

.01, .02, .03, .05, .06, .07 and .09

Type: Examination
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 30%

30 minutes approximately


This exam aims to assess the student in a structure that best assesses their competency for participation in a future clinical working environment, such as clinical placements. As such, the primary level of competency must relate to the patient’s safety for all examinable procedures. Students must also demonstrate that they are able to effectively complete the set tasks within the given timeframe. At this stage of the course, emphasis will be given to good levels of patient instruction and communication, demonstration that tests are conducted in a safe and effective manner so that conclusions can be drawn from findings and that results are accurately recorded. Prior to the exam students will be given the criteria for individual examinable skills.

Assessment task 3: Module quizzes


As an eye health care professional it is very important to be able to understand the cause, symptoms, investigation and management for various ophthalmic conditions. The module quiz assessments will aid determination of whether you have met the learning objectives of this subject and will give a summative assessment of your level of knowledge and understanding of the content.


This task is aligned with the following subject learning objectives:

29.1, 29.2, 29.3 and 29.5

This task is aligned with the following course learning outcomes:

.01, .02, .03, .04, .05, .06 and .09

Type: Examination
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 40%



Marks awarded for individual questions will be stated in the quiz

Minimum requirements

Students are required to attend 90% of scheduled lectures. It is expected that students attend 100% of scheduled clinical practicals.

Note: there is a must-pass assessment in this Subject. Please check assessment descriptions for details.

Required texts

Coursework Assessments Policy

Coursework Assessments Procedures

Graduate School of Health Policy, Guidelines and Procedures (login required)

Recommended texts

Students will be required to access journals through the UTS library and reference appropriate journal articles. Specific references may be indicated, if required via Canvas throughout semester by the coordinator or lecturers. In addition, the following texts may be of use:

Kanski, JJ, Bowling, B, Nischal, KK & Pearson, A. (2011) Clinical ophthalmology: a systematic approach. Butterworth-Heinemann, Edinburgh.

Stein H, Stein R & Freeman, M (2012) The Ophthalmic Assistant 9th ed. Saunders, Philadelphia.

Cassin B and Hamed L, (1995) Fundamentals for Ophthalmic Technical Personnel. Saunders, Philadelphia.

Gerstenblith, AT. & Rabinowitz, MP. (2012) The Wills eye manual: office and emergency room diagnosis and treatment of eye disease. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia.

Spalton, D, Hitchings, R, Hunter, P (2004) Atlas of Clinical Ophthalmology 3rd ed. Mosby Ltd.

Levin, LA, Albert, DM, (2010) Ocular disease: mechanisms and management, Saunders, Philadelphia.

Levin, LA, Nilsson, FE, Ver Hoeve, J, Wu, S, Kaufman,PL & Alm, A. (2011) Adler’s Physiology of the Eye 11th ed. Saunders, Philadelphia.