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What is an Ophthalmologist?

What Is An Ophthalmologist?

ophthalmologist-01Ophthalmologists, also known as Eye M.D.s, are Medical Doctors (M.D.) or Doctors of Osteopathy (D.O.) who specialize in the medical and surgical care of the eyes and visual system, and in the prevention of eye disease and injury. Before going into practice they have completed four or more years of college in a premedical curriculum, four or more years of medical school, one year of internship, and three or more years of specialized medical surgical and refractive training and experience in eye care.

Ophthalmologists can deliver total eye care including primary, secondary, and tertiary care. Specifically, ophthalmologists can provide vision services, contact lenses, eye examinations, medical eye care, and surgical eye care, diagnose and treat ocular manifestations of systemic diseases.


After completing 4 years of undergraduate study at a college or university, ophthalmologists attend 4 years of medical school to obtain an M.D. or D.O. degree. After graduating from medical school, they complete a 1-year internship and 3 years of training in ophthalmology in a residency program approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Following residency, ophthalmologists may enroll in a 1- to 2-year fellowship program. A fellowship offers the opportunity to develop expertise in a subspecialty such as:

  • Corneal diseases
  • Retina and vitreous diseases
  • Glaucoma
  • Pediatric eye problems
  • Plastic surgery