How To Become An Ophthalmologist (With Skills And Salary)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 25 February 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An ophthalmologist treats patients for diseases and injuries that affect the eye and vision. They work in the public and private sectors to help deliver excellent diagnosis and patient care. Learning about the role of an ophthalmologist may help you determine if this career path suits your interest. In this article, we discuss the duties of an ophthalmologist, their work environment, necessary skills, average salary and the steps on how to become an ophthalmologist.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate’s experience, academic background and location.

What Does An Ophthalmologist Do?

Ophthalmologists are specialists in measuring vision, diagnosing eye diseases and providing methods to prevent them. They learn the use of ophthalmologic equipment and also perform optical surgeries. An ophthalmologist may also help diagnose new vision-related diseases and devise preventive measures and medical procedures to treat them. Ophthalmologists may further specialise in eye surgeries and perform reconstructive surgeries.

An ophthalmologist also keeps track of patient records, evaluates past medical history, prescribes precise lenses and implements new tools and procedures in their clinic or hospital.

How To Become An Ophthalmologist?

Here are the steps you can follow to become an ophthalmologist:

1. Complete your high school

It is essential to complete your high school with a minimum of 55% to pursue a career as an ophthalmologist. Additionally, choose subjects like chemistry, physics, biology and mathematics in your high school. These subjects provide the foundation for the courses you pursue in college.

2. Prepare for medical entrance exams

Admissions in any medical course require you to appear for medical entrance examinations. Medical aspirants appear for the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET). Institutions across the country and abroad accept NEET scores to provide admission to medical aspirants. A minimum score of 50% is necessary to clear this entrance examination.

3. Complete your bachelor's degree

Bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery (MBBS) is a five-year undergraduate program necessary to become an ophthalmologist. This course teaches human anatomy, pharmacology, pathology, community health, medicine, paediatrics and surgery. Students also complete a one-year compulsory rotatory residential internship (CRRI) in a hospital associated with their college. The CRRI is mandatory to complete the undergraduate program.

Related: What Is a Resident Doctor? (With Skills and Career Path)

4. Specialise in ophthalmology

Ophthalmology is a specialisation that you can pursue after completing your undergraduate MBBS degree. As an ophthalmology aspirant, you can pursue two postgraduate programmes to further your career. Here are the programmes that you can enrol in:

Related: What Is Optometry? A Comprehensive Guide

Master's in surgery (MS in ophthalmology)

MS in ophthalmology is a two-year postgraduate course that involves the advanced study of the physiology, anatomy and diseases related to the eye. Some subjects taught in this course are gross anatomy, ocular physiology, ocular pathology, intraocular surgery, biochemistry and ocular immunology. It also provides specialised training in medical and surgical equipment related to the eye. Following this degree, you may pursue a career in research or surgery.

To pursue MS in ophthalmology, it is essential to complete your MBBS from an institute recognised by the Medical Council of India and secure a minimum of 60% in the qualifying entrance examinations such as the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test - PG (NEET-PG).

Doctor of Medicine in ophthalmology (MD in ophthalmology)

MD in ophthalmology is a three-year post-graduation course. It teaches clinical ophthalmology in refraction and surgical procedures, advances in investigative therapeutic procedures, and rehabilitation for the blind. The program provides full-spectrum training in eye care, anatomy and diseases.

To pursue MD in ophthalmology, complete your MBBS from an institute recognised by the Medical Council of India and secure a minimum of 60% in the qualifying exam, such as the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test - PG (NEET-PG).

5. Pursue a subspeciality

An ophthalmologist may pursue a sub-speciality that focuses on a particular condition or region of the eye. These sub-specialities may influence the job profile of an ophthalmologist in an organisation. Some of the popular sub-specialities are:

  • Cataract specialist focuses on removal and replacement of natural lens to fix blurred vision

  • Oculoplastic specialist focuses on repairing and reconstructing the eye

  • Ocular immunology specialist regulates the immunity of the body and its effect on the eye

  • Cornea specialist focuses on any injury or disease relating to the cornea, conjunctiva, eyelids or sclera

  • Neuro-ophthalmology specialist handles issues of the eye linked to the nervous system

  • Paediatric ophthalmologist focuses on the eyes of children

6. Apply for jobs

Ophthalmologists work in the public and private sectors. You may work in government hospitals, private hospitals and even research centres. The hospital where you completed your internship may offer a full-time job opportunity. In other cases, you may use your network, online job portals and walk-in interviews to get a job as an ophthalmologist.

Work Environment Of An Ophthalmologist

Ophthalmologists work in the public and private sectors. They may work in a single speciality, multi-speciality, government or private clinics and hospitals. They may see approximately 100 patients in a week to treat and diagnose their eye disorders. Ophthalmologists work for long hours throughout the week and may work overtime owing to surgery or patient care.

The role of an ophthalmologist is demanding and requires them to be available at all times. An ophthalmologist spends most of their time on patient care and also performs clerical tasks of maintaining patient records, depending on their seniority.

Daily Duties Of An Ophthalmologist

The daily duties and responsibilities may vary depending on their seniority and the organisation. The role of an ophthalmologist may also vary basis their specialisation. Some of the daily duties of an ophthalmologist are:

  • Provide routine care to patients

  • Prescribe glasses, lenses and medication to patients after diagnosis

  • Perform corrective and reconstructive surgeries to repair injuries

  • Perform tests to diagnose cataracts, glaucoma or other vision-related diseases

  • Perform laser surgery to correct the patient's lens

  • Treat medical disorders and injuries that may affect the vision

  • Provide consultation to patients with underlying conditions or those waiting for surgeries for its effect on the vision

  • Prescribe therapeutic care, medication and exercise to help patients improve their vision

  • Ensure patient records maintenance

  • Coordinate with multidisciplinary teams and guide interns

  • Stay updated with the latest trends and propose changes to the management to improve patient care

Skills Of An Ophthalmologist

Ophthalmologists require a mix of technical skills and soft skills to excel at their job. Here are some skills necessary to the role of an ophthalmologist:

Communication skills

As a doctor, communication is an essential skill for patient care. An ophthalmologist is empathetic in understanding patient concerns and communicating the treatment process. They share the risks and side effects of any medical procedure to ensure the patient makes an informed decision. Additionally, an ophthalmologist possesses active listening skills that help in identifying symptoms and facilitate accurate diagnosis.

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Attention to detail

An ophthalmologist deals with eye care and is extremely careful during tests and diagnosis. Small details can affect the eyes, medication and glasses. Additionally, an ophthalmologist who performs surgeries works with fine instruments and operates in regions with sensitive nerve endings. It is critical to ensure they concentrate and have steady hands during operations.

Related: Attention To Detail: Definition, Examples And Tips

Customer service

Ophthalmologists work with patients of different ages, backgrounds and temperaments. They provide personalised patient care while ensuring the patient understands the diagnosis and is confident working with them. An ophthalmologist builds a relationship with the patient to provide the best possible patient care. Additionally, an ophthalmologist effectively addresses all patient concerns before proceeding with treatment.

Time management

An ophthalmologist manages time between appointments, surgeries and other clerical jobs. It is crucial to systematically allocate time for all their duties to ensure efficient patient care. Additionally, maintaining a schedule also helps doctors perform well at their job.

Analytical skills

An ophthalmologist performs several tests on the patient and aligns the results with plausible symptoms. Their analysis of the symptoms helps determine the course of treatment. They possess strong analytical skills to ensure the diagnosis is correct and quickly determine the treatment, especially in critical situations.

Average Salary Of An Ophthalmologist

The role of an ophthalmologist comes with a high salary. The average base salary of an ophthalmologist is ₹97,538 per month. The pay varies if they work at a government or private hospital or practice independently. The geographical location, clinical expertise and experience of an ophthalmologist influence their salary. Factors such as the work hours and the number of patients visiting an ophthalmologist may also affect the salary.

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