Ophthalmology is a greatly important area under the health umbrella. It is quite a complex area and therefore not only requires an undergraduate degree in medicine or eye care degrees but also a MBBS or equivalent qualification.
A postgraduate degree is vital so choosing the right one to suit your career path is important and it is necessary to research your options in detail and make sure the right course is chosen.
We will help guide you in the right direction and talk you through the basic points below.
What is ophthalmology?
Ophthalmology deals with the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders. It looks at the structure, functions and diseases to do with the eye.
What does an ophthalmologist do?
Ophthalmologists are often confused with optometrists and opticians but all three occupations have a different level of expertise and training. Ophthalmologists specialize in surgical procedures of the eye. The day to day duties of an ophthalmologist may differ from case to case and patient to patient. The average working hours of an ophthalmologist are around 47 hours a week. General duties carried out include:
- Assess and examine patients
- Perform surgeries such as cataract, glaucoma, refractive, corneal etc
- Teach and instruct interns in ophthalmologic procedures and techniques
- Refer patients for more specialized treatments
- Develop plans and procedures based on patients’ needs
- Develop high quality services for patients
- Advise and promote healthy vision and eye care
- Carry out relevant research
- Work alongside other professionals in multidisciplinary teams
- Document and record patient medical history
- Prescribe lenses
- Diagnose conditions, treat injuries, disorders or diseases
- Prescribe medicine for certain conditions
- Carry out clinical tests
- Develop treatment plans
There are many courses to choose from in this area across the UK. Some courses offer the option of studying both part-time or full time. Some courses may have restrictions or changes due to Covid-19. More detail on courses can be found on university websites or course overviews. Examples of courses include:
Vision and Strabismus
Postgraduate courses in vision and strabismus are often part time and can be distanced learning/online. It will help students to gain the necessary knowledge and skills in order to work in this field and carry out high quality services for patients. Low Vision is a main focus of these courses.
Contact Lens Optician
Contact lens optician postgraduate courses are focused on those already in practice. Students will cover a range of theoretical aspects of the course, often working online. You will gain a grounding in clinical skills and engage in contact lens practice at least one day a week throughout the course.
Optometry and Vision Sciences
Another postgraduate course available is that in optometry and vision sciences. Students will focus on areas such as processes and neural mechanism of normal vision perception (including spatio-temporal vision, image processing, colour vision), paediatric eyecare, electrophysiology, diagnostic and therapeutic tools and how mechanisms differ in developing, aging, anomalous and diseased visual systems.
Other courses available in this area include Clinical Optometry, Optometry Progression and Eye and Vision Sciences and to name a few.
Entry requirements may change from course to course and University to University so it is important to research your specific course to be sure you meet the criteria. A bachelor’s degree is required in medicine, ophthalmology or other relevant eye care degrees. Some courses will look for a 2.1 degree while a 2.2 may suffice in others. More detailed course outlines can be found on University websites and course overviews.
The typical employers may include:
- Health agencies
- Medical Colleges
- Freelancer/own clinic
The salary of an ophthalmologist can vary depending on your employment and your experience. Starting salaries for junior doctor trainees can range between £27,689 and £32,050 within the first two years. As a trainee at specialty level you may earn between £38,000 to £48,000. The average salary of a specialty doctor in ophthalmology is around £57,350. As a newly qualified consultant you will earn in excess of £100,000. All figures are based on estimates and only used as a guide.
Skills and requirements
Skills and requirements needed in this area include:
- Strong communication skills
- Ability to work well with others
- Strong verbal skills
- Good interpersonal skills
- The ability to explain complex situations to clients
- Good hand eye coordination
- Excellent problem solving skills
- Ability to work under pressure
- Critical mind
- Strong leadership skills
- Planning skills
- Time management skills