Medical Ophthalmology

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
  • Surgical Ophthalmology

Core Training in Ophthalmology is the common entry route to medical or surgical ophthalmology in Ireland, with the divergence occurring at the completion of core training usually at the beginning of year 4.

The purpose of the core foundation years is to provide a broad based initial training in ophthalmology with attainment of knowledge skills and professional behaviours relevant to the practice of ophthalmology in any specialist discipline. Within these core years of training, much of the content is common across both surgical and medical ophthalmology.

Information on Core Training application and entry process is available on the ICO website here.

Following successful completion of Core Training (requires passing the MRCSI exam) and depending on career preference and ability, candidates can compete to enter either Specialist Training in Medical Ophthalmology or Specialist Training in Surgical Ophthalmology

Specialist Training in Medical Ophthalmology

The medical ophthalmology curriculum is competence-based delivered over 1.5 years after completion of Core Training

The Medical ophthalmology training programme focuses on the development of sub-specialty expertise in certain areas such as pediatrics, glaucoma and medical retina. In medical retina, new advances in intraocular injections and laser have revolutionized the treatment of two common sight-threatening conditions, 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 and therefore, the number of medical ophthalmologists required to treat these patients is also expected to increase.

Medical ophthalmologists have a range of roles in health care, as community or hospital based ophthalmic physicians or in independent practice.

They can also have public health roles such as running a diabetic screening programme and/or extending eye care to the community.

Further information on the entry criteria for a career in medical ophthalmology is available on the ICO website here.

Training Pathway for Specialist Training in Medical Opthalmology

Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4
Training Level Medical School Intern Year Basic Opthalmology Training Specialist Training in Medical Opthalmology
Duration 4-5 years 1 year 3 years 1.5 years
Entry Process Graduate or direct entry Entry through the HSE Intern Match Entry based on competitive interview Entry based on competitive interview
Mandatory Examinations As per curriculum N/A MRCSI European Board of Ophthalmology Diploma
Application Date CAO process opens in November Application process opens in October Application process opens in November Application process open in November
Programme Operated by: Undergraduate Universities Intern Networks ICO ICO

Specialist Training in Medical Ophthalmology (ST 1-2)

Entry into Specialist Training in Medical Ophthalmology

After successful completion of the 3 core years of training, trainees can compete to enter medical ophthalmic specialist training in Medical Ophthalmology provided they meet the selection & eligibility criteria. Entry to the programme is by competitive interview.

Specialist Training in Medical Ophthalmology (6 month modules x 3)

The purpose of specialist training in Medical Ophthalmology ST 4 is to provide in-depth specialist training so as to equip trainees with skills so that they can independently practice as generalists within ophthalmology, deliver an on-call emergency service and also deliver more specialised services to a defined level. As such the fourth year has a modular approach and is framed around the three subspecialties located at the core of future independent practice – medical retina, glaucoma and paediatric ophthalmology. ST 4 trainees, irrespective of preference and future career choice, need to complete all three modules to successfully complete their training. To reflect the diversity of the future career path of an ophthalmic specialist, ST4 training is located both within hospital-based training units as well as in community clinics.

Certificate of Completion of Medical Ophthalmic Specialist Training (CCmedOST)

It is essential that trainees achieve both the common and specialty-specific competences defined in the curriculum to be eligible to exit the program. The European Board of Ophthalmology Diploma or EBOD is the formal exit requirement for the Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training. Award of the CCST  qualifies Doctors to be on the specialist registrar of the Medical Council and indicates that the Ophthalmic Specialist has reached the curricular standards of competence to practice independently as a Medical Ophthalmic Specialist in Ireland.

For further information, please visit the website of the
Irish College of Ophthalmologists

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