Medical ophthalmology

Medical ophthalmologists (also known as ophthalmic physicians) are doctors who prevent, diagnose and treat medical eye conditions, many of which are related to systemic disease, such as diabetes.

This page provides useful information on the nature of the work, the common procedures/interventions, sub-specialties and other roles that may interest you.

Doctor examining patient

Nature of the work

Medical ophthalmologists are doctors trained in both general (internal) medicine and ophthalmology. They manage medical eye disorders, many of which are related to systemic (ie whole-body) disease such as diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis, inflammation, infection and malignancy. Ocular inflammatory disorders may be the first manifestation of systemic disease and it is important that the whole patient is investigated and treated, not just the presenting organ. Their role is different from ophthalmic surgeons who are specialists in the surgical and medical treatment of diseases and injuries in and around the eye.

Medical ophthalmologists treat conditions such as:

“Ophthalmology is a fascinating area and although it is a niche specialty” Dr Richard Gale is a consultant in medical ophthalmology, working at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Read Richard'’s story

Common procedures/interventions

These include:

Good stereoscopic binocular corrected visual acuity is required for a career in medical ophthalmology.


There are no CCT sub-specialties or associated sub-specialties for medical ophthalmology, but medical ophthalmologists usually focus on one or more of the following areas; adult uveitis, paediatric uveitis, orbital inflammation, neuro-ophthalmolology, medical retina, diabetes retinal screening. UKNOSIG is a special interest group for those interested in neuro-ophthalmology.

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Other roles that may interest you

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