Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Ophthalmic Surgery

Ophthalmic Surgery in the 21st century is an interesting and exciting specialty. It offers the diagnostic dilemmas of a physician as well as the technical challenges of a microscopic surgeon, both on a backdrop of exciting new therapies and innovative technical advances.

Ophthalmology is the branch of medicine that deals with the anatomy, physiology and disease of the eye and visual system. The specialty of ophthalmology in Ireland includes two career structures – medical ophthalmology and surgical ophthalmology.

Medical ophthalmology refers to non-surgical general ophthalmology. However following recent changes to the medical ophthalmology curriculum, the new training pathway allows subspecialty expertise to be developed in certain areas such as pediatrics, glaucoma and medical retina. Especially in the latter area of medical retina, new advances in intraocular injections and laser have revolutionized the treatment of two common sight-threatening conditions, namely age-related macular degeneration and diabetic maculopathy. As these conditions are very responsive to the new therapies, the work is very rewarding. Over the next 20 years Ireland will see a significant increase in both older patients and diabetics. Therefore the number of medical ophthalmologists required to treat these patients is also expected to increase.

Medical ophthalmologists have varying roles around the country. Once they have successfully completed the medical ophthalmology curriculum, they can take up a post as a community ophthalmic physician, a hospital based ophthalmic physician or set up private practice as an independent practitioner.  They can also have public health roles such as running a diabetic screening programme and/or extending eye care to the community

Surgical ophthalmology refers to ophthalmologists who perform microsurgical intraocular operations such as cataract extraction surgery or retinal detachment repair surgery. Surgical ophthalmologists nearly all perform cataract surgery as well as specialize in one of eleven different surgical subspecialties.   Although the eye is a very small organ there are 10 subspecialties involved in the practice of surgical ophthalmology.

  1. Cataract and Refractive Surgery
  2. Paediatric Ophthalmology
  3. Corneal and External Diseases
  4. Glaucoma
  5. Vitreoretinal surgery
  6. Neuro-ophthalmology
  7. Oculoplastics
  8. Orbital/lacrimal disorders
  9. Strabismus
  10. Ocular Oncology 



Ophthalmic Surgery Training Pathway



How to apply

To apply for the Basic Ophthalmology Training Programme a trainee needs to be registered with the Medical Council of Ireland and eligible for trainee specialist registration.

Ophthalmology, especially surgical ophthalmology, is a highly competitive specialty in Ireland. Entry on to the programme is by competitive interview. Applicants can access the current scoring system on the ICO website. Consideration is given to an honours medical degree, prizes /medals (see below) achieved during undergraduate years, postgraduate degrees and presentations, research and /or publications. Personal and professional attributes such as, ability to work as a team, communications skills and personal motivation are also important.

To be eligible for a Specialty programme in Ophthalmic surgery a candidate must have successfully obtained their CCBST (Certificate of completion of Basic Surgical Training). Trainees rotating through the seven recognised training centres in Ireland. Candidates sit an exit examination at the end of their training to acquire the Fellowship in Ophthalmic Surgery through the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).

Any interested graduate can contact Siobhan Kelly at the Irish College of Ophthalmologists. She can put you in touch with the Dean of Postgraduate Education and / or Ophthalmologists in Eye Departments throughout the country, whose team, either junior and senior, would be happy to talk to you about a career in Ophthalmology.

Ophthalmic Surgery - Guide to the Marking System (July 2016 Intake) 


For further information, please visit the website of the