Ophthalmology Career Guide: Qualifications, Job Description & Career Prospects

January 9, 2015

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

Click here for 2021 shadowing opportunities

Gap Medics students with hospital staff in Thailand Description     

An ophthalmologist is a physician who is specially trained to provide comprehensive vision and eye care for patients across all ages, from infants to elderly. Ophthalmologists do visual checkups and prescribe contact lenses and eyeglasses and they also diagnose and treat a wide range of visual and ocular disorders, including glaucoma, cataracts, pink eye, nearsightedness and age-related macular degeneration. In addition, they can also diagnosis other disorders that have symptoms that manifest in the eyes and other visual structures and visual pathways. Some of these disorders may include hypertension, diabetes, brain tumours, multiple sclerosis and several types of infectious diseases.

Ophthalmologists use a wide assortment of diagnostic tools and medications and highly complex surgical operations to treat and manage a wide range of eye conditions and visual problems. As technology advances, ophthalmology continues to incorporate new technology into eye care, from more advanced optical instrumentation to lasers and microsurgical instrumentation. Huge advancements that have been made in technology, techniques and drugs have led to the development of numerous new processes as well as a rapidly changing job role.

Ophthalmologist Workplaces 

Ophthalmologists work in hospitals, clinics and medical universities or in private practice groups that they either own individually or with a group of other specialists or ophthalmologists.

As an ophthalmologist, you will probably work regularly scheduled hours, seeing patients in your office on certain days and scheduling operations on other days. This is one of the few specialties in medicine that rarely gets called out for emergencies and unless you work in a hospital where emergency situations arise in the emergency ward, you will find that you will not be on call much.  

Training Requirements

To become an ophthalmologist you must first complete a 4 year medical school program. Once you receive an M.D. you will then have to complete a residency program that takes about 3 years to 5 years to complete.  Before you can practice as an ophthalmologist, you will have to complete a program of post graduate medical training and obtain a fellowship at a specialist medical college. After working as a Resident Medical Officer for one year, you have to submit an application to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists in order to undergo additional training in this specialty and to earn a Fellowship that will allow you to practice.

Ophthalmology Salary

The average annual salary for an ophthalmologist in Australia can range from AUD 152,000 at the lower end to about AUD 205,000 at the higher end. As with other specialities, salaries vary depending upon the years of experience, specialty, type of establishment and the geographical location of the workplace. 

Job Outlook

The job outlook for ophthalmologists is projected to be very good with more opportunities in rural and low-income areas of the country.