Ophthalmology Degree and Training Programs

Ophthalmology is the branch of medicine that deals with the eye. Find out what degrees, training and licensing you'll need to practice medicine as an ophthalmologist, and learn about the requirements for board certification. Schools offering Optician degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is Ophthalmology?

Ophthalmology is a branch of medical science that specializes in diseases and injuries of the eye. As an ophthalmologist, you will either treat patients or perform research to better understand how the eye works, as well as how to treat ocular problems. Your duties in this career may include prescribing eyeglasses or contacts, diagnosing ocular issues and performing eye surgery.

Job ResponsibilitiesTreat patients, prescribe eyeglasses or contacts, diagnose ocular issues, perform eye surgery
PrerequisitesBachelor's degree, medical school, ophthalmology residency, pass U.S. Medical Licensing Examination
Residency DetailsResidencies are usually three years and include elections, observation, supervised surgery, and possible sub-speciality topics
CertificationVoluntary certification is available through the American Board of Ophthalmology
Median Annual Salary (May 2018)* $203,880 (for all Physicians and surgeons not listed separately, including ophthalmologists)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 11% (for all Physicians and surgeons not listed separately, including ophthalmologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Requirements?

As an aspiring ophthalmologist, you'll need to complete a bachelor's program, as well as the Medical College Admissions Test, before enrolling in medical school. In general, any major is acceptable, but most medical schools expect applicants to have undergraduate credits in biology, chemistry, physics and statistics. Some medical schools offer ophthalmology training during 4-year Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) programs, but it's more common to go into an ophthalmology residency after receiving your degree. After obtaining your M.D., you need to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination to be licensed as a physician or surgeon.

How Do Residencies Work?

Ophthalmology residencies typically last about three years and can often start after you complete a 1-year internship. Residencies include lectures and clinical portions where you learn to diagnose ocular diseases and perform surgeries under supervision. There may also be research components during your residency. Possible sub-specialties might include refractive surgery, oculoplastics, pediatric ophthalmology or ocular immunology.

How Do I Become Certified?

You can pursue voluntary certification through the American Board of Ophthalmology. Requirements for board certification include a medical degree, at least a year of postgraduate clinical work and 3-4 years of training in an accredited ophthalmology residency program. You also need to be licensed to practice medicine. Your certification must be renewed every ten years. Re-certification requirements include completion of continuing medical education coursework, review tests and self assessments.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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