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Study Ophthalmology abroad

About this subject

  • About this subject
  • Is this the course for me?
  • Career prospects
  • Studying Ophthalmology
  • Where to study?

Defined as a branch of medicine dealing with the physiology and disease of the eye, ophthalmology stems from the Greek word “opthalmos” meaning referring to the discourse of the eyes. Ophthalmology as a discipline does not only refer to the study of human eyes, but also to the eyes of animals as the difference between the two is minimal.

In the UK, there are only a few Universities offering ophthalmology or orthoptics courses and there are fewer ophthalmologists per person in the UK than there are in any other European country.

Is this the course for me?

Are you interested in the structure of the eye? Are you fascinated by the way in which humans and animals physically see? If so, then an ophthalmology/orthoptics course may be perfect for you.

However, it is very important for potential students of this discipline to have a natural aptitude; particularly biology as this will form the bulk of the course content. Similarly, students will be expected to attend theoretical based lectures and learn ophthalmic theory as well as applying this theory during practical experiments. As such, students who succeed in this particular course will have both practical and analytical skills.

Although most of the degree programme is taught through lectures and practical demonstrations, the students who are particularly successful at this subject are those who conduct their own research outside of contract hours and are self-motivated enough to engage with critical texts in their free time.

Career prospects

The majority of ophthalmology students study this particular programme do so with the intention of finding work as an ophthalmologist with a specialised knowledge of diagnosing, treating and preventing diseases of the eyes. After graduating, students will be expected to study for a further three years in specialist hospital ward. Those in foundation training positions will earn £22,400 - £27,800 per year in the UK though this salary may vary depending upon country.

However there is also the option for ophthalmology and orthoptis students to become optometrists, examining patient’s eyes, fitting glasses and referring patients to GPs and healthcare specialists. Orthoptist can investigate, diagnose and treat sight-related ailments alongside abnormal eye movements.

However, some graduates decide not to practice ophthalmology and pursue work in unrelated career fields. Some graduated decide to enter the publishing and journalism industry, specialising in the medical or scientific sector or even taking on work within the charitable/social care sector.

Studying Ophthalmology

Orthoptics degrees are currently offered at the Universities of Sheffield and Liverpool. Those wishing to become an orthoptist must have this particular degree. Those wishing to become an optometrist should have a degree in optometry that is approved by the General Optical Council, so it is important that students have a clear career plan before making their application. Courses will last a minimum of 3 years and applicants will be expected to achieve a minimum of 3 strong A-levels or equivalent in science – based subjects.

Those wishing to pursue a post-graduate specialism courses should already have a degree in orthoptics or optometry, ideally with a 2:1 degree classification. Post-graduate courses should last anywhere from a year to 3 years, although the continuing professional development courses for those who have already qualified but seek to top up their knowledge may be shorter.

If you’re a foreign student you will also be expected to sit an IELTS test before starting your course of study in order to demonstrate your proficiency of the English Language.

Where to study?

One consideration to take into account is the cost of your course, as well as the grade requirements. Most Universities will only accept graduates with A’s at A-level for under-graduate courses, or with a 2:1 degree for post-graduate study. Before deciding that medicine is the course for you, check that your predicted grades meet these requirements. Given that a medicine course can consist of up to five years, you should also think carefully about finance. Can you afford the fees? Can you afford the living costs?

If you’re struggling to secure funding, there are a number of scholarships and grants available.

There is such competition for places on ophthalmology courses that where you end up studying will impact upon your future. If you are currently applying for undergraduate courses, but are looking to continue training at a later date then make sure you attend a university which offers a course that accredited by the General Optical Council. Whether you’re studying at undergraduate or at post-graduate level, make sure that the University has formed a close working relationship with local hospitals and medical facilities ensuring that you make the most out of your study time.

Of course it is also important to choose somewhere that will make you happy for the duration of your course, particularly if you’re opting to live away from home. Wherever you choose to study, your qualification will end up costing you a lot of money, so get the most out of your time as a student! As such it is important that you consider whether the surrounding culture will add to the pleasure of your University years as well as academic benefits of studying at a particular institution.

What Ophthalmology courses are there?


Ophthalmic Services


Optical Dispensing

STUDY LEVEL Vocational / Undergraduate

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