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Education and Training: Four years of undergraduate school, four years of medical school, and four years of residency training
Average Salary: $244,126 per year
Job Outlook: Very good

An ophthalmologist is a specialist doctor who diagnoses, identifies, and treats eye problems. An ophthalmologist is responsible for diagnosing and treating eye injuries, diseases, and disorders, such as glaucoma, refractive errors, and age-related macular degeneration. Ophthalmologists perform various eye surgeries such as cataract, glaucoma, refractive, and oculoplastic surgeries. They also perform laser surgeries to reshape or replace the ocular tissue. Ophthalmologists examine the eyes to determine the nature of the ocular disorder. They interpret the results of diagnostic tests and educate patients about taking good eye care. They prescribe corrective contact lenses or glasses to help improve vision. Ophthalmologists are also involved in conducting ophthalmic research.
To establish a name for themselves in the field of ophthalmology, an experience of 4-5 years and an expertise in ophthalmic specialties such as pediatric ophthalmology, ocular oncology, or neuro-ophthalmology, is recommended.
Considering the immense prevalence of eye problems, satisfied patients tend to have long-lasting relationships with their ophthalmologists. A career in ophthalmology can be an immensely satisfying option.

Education and Training Requirements

Ophthalmologists are required to complete four years of undergraduate school, four years of medical school, one-year internship in general surgery, and 3-4 years residency in ophthalmology. On completing their residency in ophthalmology, they need to get certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology by passing a written and an oral examination. Ophthalmologists are required to get involved in a process of continuous learning and improvement in order to maintain their license.

Getting the Job

In addition to the educational requirements, ophthalmologists need to be good team players since they are often required to perform surgeries in a team environment. They need to be intelligent, creative, and dexterous. Excellent hand-eye coordination and good surgical judgment are also important.
Ophthalmologists need to be mentally and physically tough to withstand the pressure of academics and medical practice. They should be able to make quick decisions and should be emotionally stable. Ophthalmologists need to spend considerable amount of time talking to their patients and educating them about proper eye care. Therefore, they need to have a very composed outlook and should have excellent interpersonal skills.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

The job prospects for an ophthalmologist are excellent with a projected employment growth of more than 20% for 2008-2018. The growing and aging population will typically drive the growth in demand for ophthalmologists.
To advance in their careers, ophthalmologists need to constantly brush up their educational skills by attending seminars and workshops. They need to be aware of the latest advancements and the use of technology in the field of ophthalmology.
Ophthalmologists become popular by word-of mouth referrals amongst their peers and patients.

Working Conditions and Environment

Ophthalmologists work in well-established hospitals or private clinics. They might even work as part of a group for a healthcare organization. The work environment is pleasant and well-lit. Ophthalmologists need to spend long hours standing while performing surgeries. The work hours can be erratic at times when they need to attend to emergencies. Well-established ophthalmologists might even spend 50 hours or more per week at work.
The work can be physically and mentally tiring.

Salary and Benefits

Ophthalmologists get paid very well and the annual median salary for an ophthalmologist is approximately $244,126 per year. This figure might vary depending on the individual’s experience and expertise. Self-employed ophthalmologists generally have a higher annual salary as compared to those working in healthcare organizations. Salaried ophthalmologists are entitled to health insurance, retirement benefits, and paid leaves.

Where to Go for More Information

American Academy of Ophthalmology
655 Beach St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 561-8500

The American Board of Ophthalmology
111 Presidential Blvd., Ste. 241
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004-1075
(610) 664-1175

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