Become an Ophthalmologist

Ophthalmology is a vibrant and diverse medical and surgical specialty. Find out what's involved and the diversity of career options for an ophthalmologist.

Ophthalmology is a small but highly competitive medical and surgical specialty, dealing with diverse ophthalmological problems and a wide range of patients from premature babies to the older population. Working alongside other professional colleagues, you will have the chance to offer sight-saving microsurgical or pharmacological treatments to patients of all ages, along with sub-specialty work in rare diseases.

Doctors in training to be a consultant ophthalmologist will train in a variety of sub-specialties and go on to make a career in one or more of the following:

  • Cornea and anterior segment
  • Medical retina
  • Glaucoma
  • Oculoplastic surgery
  • Paediatric ophthalmology
  • Medical ophthalmology
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Academic research
  • Vitreoretinal Surgery
  • Ocular Motility
  • Urgent Eye Care
  • Community Ophthalmology.

I became an ophthalmologist because it allowed me to blend medicine and surgery in a highly technical environment and in a discipline which is evolving. I wanted the challenge of learning new skills and knowledge and the satisfaction of highly effective treatments.

Kavita Aggarwal

What to expect as an ophthalmologist

Whilst a general ophthalmologist’s surgical workload may include squint and glaucoma surgery, oculoplastic and nasolacrimal surgery, cataract surgery is the most commonly known eye condition that ophthalmologists deal with.  Many of the population will need cataract surgery at some point in their lifetime. Because of the diversity of eye disease and patients, ophthalmologists may discuss a patient’s care and co-morbidities involving many other areas of medicine such as diabetes, rheumatology, neurology, ENT and maxillofacial surgery, plastic surgery, paediatrics and genetics.  Read the short career guide So you want to be an Ophthalmologist? for more information.

Another important part of the patient care involves partnerships with other professions that ensure a joined up approach across primary and secondary care. Find out about who else is involved in ophthalmology.

The road to qualification is challenging, but there are plenty of rewards and career routes to pursue, including academic research.

Find out more about our Ophthalmic Specialist Training (OST) Curriculum

National Recruitment for Ophthalmic Specialist Training

Health Education South West (Severn) coordinate national recruitment into Ophthalmic Specialist Training (OST) on behalf of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

Candidates are able to preference all available posts across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

All enquiries should be made directly to the recruiting team either by ringing 01454 252610 or emailing [email protected]

2022 recruitment

Please follow the links below for further information about the 2022 recruitment process:

OST1 2022 recruitment

OST3 2022 recruitment

National Recruitment Deanery Proforma Information

The College has produced additional information by region for trainees applying for National Recruitment to assist in deciding on preference. Please select each region for detailed information:


Northern Ireland



Medical Ophthalmology

There was a change to the ST3 Medical Ophthalmology entry requirements in 2016. Trainees from an ophthalmology background – who completed ST2 and passed the FRCOphth Part 1 by August 2016 – may be eligible to apply. Successful applicants enter at ST3 level but complete a period of core medical training as part of their programme.

More information about medical ophthalmology


OST Curriculum

Find out what to expect from the Ophthalmic Specialist Training Curriculum

Ophthalmic Specialist Training Curriculum