Career Spotlight: Ophthalmologists and What They Do


Photo by Pavel Danilyuk

When it comes to caring for your eyes, an ophthalmologist plays a pivotal role in ensuring optimal vision and eye health. Ophthalmologists are specialized medical doctors who focus on the health of eyes and vision. Their role encompasses a wide range of responsibilities, from diagnosing and treating eye conditions to performing intricate surgeries. Whether you’re seeking treatment for an eye issue or simply interested in learning more about this field of medicine, let’s dive into what ophthalmologists do.

Education and Training

Ophthalmologists undergo rigorous education and training, typically completing four years of medical school after earning an undergraduate degree. Following medical school, they undergo a residency program that focuses specifically on ophthalmology, lasting at least three years. During this residency, ophthalmologists-in-training gain hands-on experience in diagnosing and managing various eye conditions under the supervision of experienced mentors.

Specialization and Expertise

Ophthalmology encompasses several subspecialties, allowing ophthalmologists to focus on specific aspects of eye care. These subspecialties include:

  • Retina: Specializing in conditions affecting the retina and vitreous humor, such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
  • Cornea: Addressing issues related to the cornea, such as corneal infections or dystrophies.
  • Glaucoma: Managing conditions that affect the optic nerve and can lead to vision loss if left untreated.
  • Pediatric Ophthalmology: Providing eye care for children, addressing issues like strabismus (crossed eyes) and amblyopia (lazy eye).
  • Ocular Oncology: Diagnosing and treating tumors affecting the eye, which can be either benign or malignant.
  • Oculoplastics: Performing surgical procedures related to the eyelids, tear ducts, and face to improve both function and appearance.

Diagnosing and Treating Eye Conditions

Ophthalmologists are trained to diagnose a wide range of eye conditions and diseases, including refractive errors, cataracts, and eye infections. They utilize specialized equipment and techniques, such as slit-lamp examinations and retinal imaging, to assess the health of the eyes thoroughly.


Photo by Anna Shvets

Surgical Interventions

In addition to diagnosing and managing eye conditions through medications and other treatments, ophthalmologists perform surgical procedures when necessary. Common surgeries include cataract removal with intraocular lens implantation, LASIK and other refractive surgeries to correct vision, and surgeries to repair retinal detachments.

Collaborative Care

Ophthalmologists often collaborate with optometrists and primary care physicians to ensure comprehensive eye care for their patients. Optometrists typically handle routine eye exams, vision testing, and prescribing glasses or contact lenses, while ophthalmologists manage complex eye conditions and surgical interventions.


Photo by Marc Schulte

Importance of Regular Eye Exams

Regular eye exams are crucial for maintaining good eye health and detecting potential issues early. Ophthalmologists recommend routine screenings to monitor for conditions like glaucoma and macular degeneration, which can often be asymptomatic in the early stages. From diagnosing and treating eye conditions to performing intricate surgeries, ophthalmologists play a vital role in preserving and enhancing vision for their patients.

Avatar of Ivan Yong

Ivan Yong

Dr. Ivan Yong is an optometrist with over 12 years of experience in the optical industry. He earned his doctorate from the Southern California College of Optometry and has practiced in multiple settings, including private practice, community health, and ophthalmology. Dr. Yong aims to expand access to affordable eyewear and improve eye health worldwide.