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How to become an Ophthalmologist in Australia: careers in health

Ophthalmologists are qualified medical doctors with additional specialist training in the diagnosis, treatment and management of diseases, injuries and deficiencies of the eyes. Ophthalmologists are trained to carry out a broad range of eye care practises, from prescribing corrective lenses to performing complicated microsurgery. They may choose to focus on scientific research relating to causes, prevention, treatment and cures for eye diseases and vision problems. To become an Ophthalmologist in Australia you need to undertake around 12 years of tertiary study – first completing a medical degree and training, before specialist ophthalmic training.
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Being a ophthalmologist: daily duties

Ophthalmologists’ patients are referred to them from optometrists when they detect symptoms of eye disease. They diagnose diseases and eye disorders and recommend treatment options for patients. They may work in a variety of settings from hospital operating theatres, out-patient clinics or community care centres.


  • Operating specialist ophthalmological equipment
  • Performing microsurgery on eyes
  • Diagnosing and treating eye diseases and disorders
  • Care of patients with chronic eye disease
  • Working with other medical professionals

Being an ophthalmologist: skills for success

Being detail oriented and well organised in your daily work are essential skills for ophthalmologists. They need to juggle many patient records and stay up to date with research. Good hand-eye coordination is essential for performing microsurgery and other procedures on patients. Effective communication skills are also necessary for working closely with other medical professionals, patients and their families.
  • Good attention to detail and organisational abilities
  • Perform well under pressure
  • Exceptional dexterity for microsurgery
  • Good interpersonal and communication skills
  • Strong research skills

Specialised roles within medicine

As your ophthalmology career progresses you might want to specialise your practice to suit your interests. Some ophthalmologists specialise in niche areas like oculoplastic and laser procedures, cataract surgery or other surgical areas like vitreoretinal surgery. They may also work in research or consultancy roles.
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
    Neuro-ophthalmologists combine the fields of neurology and ophthalmology to deal with the neurology of vision. They treat diseases of the nervous system affecting, vision, control of eye movements and eye reflexes. They may choose to work in surgical or clinical settings or in research and consultancy roles.
  • Ocular genetics
    These specialists work with inherited eye diseases and examine genetic mutations that cause them. These ophthalmologists communicate complex information, diagnose diseases and prognoses and recommend treatment options. There are also many research roles in this field.
  • Paediatric Ophthalmologists
    Specialising in eye care for children and young people, paediatric ophthalmologists work closely with orthotists to monitor visual development. They diagnose and treat eye disorders that appear in childhood. Working with children can be challenging, and they require excellent communication skills and patience to identify eye problems that children may not be able to vocalise.

Educational pathways for Ophthalmologists

A minimum of twelve years’ tertiary education is necessary to become an ophthalmologist in Australia. A medical degree needs to be attained first, followed by an internship and residency as a doctor, and then further specialist study as an ophthalmologist.
  • Start your career
    Get started on the pathway to your career by finding courses in health.
  • Strengthen your skills
    Get useful experience and nationally recognised qualifications in health
  • Build your resume
    Work towards your professional goals and explore options for continuing your education.
  • Industry requirements
    To practise as an ophthalmologist you must be certified by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists.
  • Finding Work
    Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your medicine career. Emphasise your personal strengths and achievements in your resume and target your cover letter to the job description listed.
  • Employment Prospects
    Ophthalmologists are in high demand, especially in rural and remote areas. Strong growth is predicted in this field into the future.

Resources for Ophthalmologists

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