Ophthalmologists are trained to provide basic and advanced care for all diseases and disorders of the eye - as eye specialists, these physicians can provide surgical and non-surgical treatment.

Watch an Overview of Ophthalmology

About Ophthalmology

Ophthalmology is a field of medicine that provides surgical and non-surgical treatment for all diseases, injuries and complications of the eye. Ophthalmology is not to be confused with the field of optometry (eye doctors) in that ophthalmologists have completed four years of medical school and are fully licensed MDs qualified to perform the most complex surgical operations of the eye.

Patients may seek out the care of an ophthalmologist for a wide range of reasons, from general eye exams and wellness check-ups to serious eye problems. Ophthalmologists may treat patients suffering from symptoms such as distorted and/or decreased vision, eye injuries or pains, bulging of the eyes, double vision, loss of peripheral vision, thyroid related eye problems, halos, blind spots, red eye, eye complications resulting from infections and misaligned eyes, among many other complications. Those with existing and ongoing eye conditions (such as macular degeneration, cataracts or glaucoma, among others) may require regular check-ups or ongoing treatments from an ophthalmologist.

In the event a patient requires eye surgery, an ophthalmologist is likely to be consulted. Surgical procedures performed by ophthalmologists may include eyelid surgery, laser eye surgery, glaucoma surgery, refractive surgery, corneal surgery, vitreo retinal surgery, cataract surgery, eye muscle surgery, oculoplastic surgery, orbital surgery and eye removal surgery, among many other surgical procedures.

Ophthalmology Education & Training

The education and training required to become an ophthalmologist begins with the completion of a four year bachelor’s degree before the completion of an MD or DO medical degree from an accredited medical school. During medical school, the student is trained in classroom, laboratory and clinical settings with regard to basic medical treatment and knowledge.

Following graduation from medical school, the physician must complete an internship year before entering into a residency program in ophthalmology lasting approximately three to four years; the residency training usually includes surgical training. During an ophthalmology residency, the physician is trained exclusively in surgical and non-surgical treatment of all conditions of the eye – from common, basic ailments to the very advanced and rare.

If the physician chooses, they may complete additional training that will allow them to subspecialize in a specific area of ophthalmology. Subspecialty areas include pediatric ophthalmology, the treatment of glaucoma, corneal or retinal diseases, or reconstructive eye surgery, among others. Following completion of the residency, many ophthalmologists seek board certification from the American Board of Ophthalmology.