Working life (medical ophthalmology)

This page provides useful information about the roles and responsibilities of medical ophthalmologists, where they work, who they work with and what they feel about their role.

“It encompasses a truly diverse range of fields where conditions may be isolated to the eye but very often evaluation of the patient will involve detailed understanding of systemic conditions and their management. As a physician by training there is intellectual satisfaction in this approach, and as an ophthalmologist, I feel that I am cherry picking the most interesting cases within ophthalmology. There are many opportunities to be involved in research, and part of the excitement is in bringing newer therapies to ophthalmic practice.” (A specialist registrar)

Most medical ophthalmologists see patients in an out-patient setting in a teaching hospital. Specialist clinics may be held for different patient groups at various times during the week, eg dealing with immunosuppression, neurological disorders, vascular risk factors, genetic counselling or laser and intra-ocular treatments. A consultant will handle cases as well as supervise other team members. The rest of the week may be taken up with consultant meetings, undertaking research, supervising training, doing essential administration and managing and participating in diabetic retinopathy screening. As a small specialty, there is ample opportunity for leadership and involvement in national committees.

Medical ophthalmologists see patients in all age groups. Uveitis, for example, tends to affect younger adults, neurological disorders can present at any age, while age-related macular degeneration affects the elderly.

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