What Do Ophthalmologists Do?
Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize in eye and vision care and function, including diagnosing and treating eye diseases and injuries. Eye M.D.s, as ophthalmologists are often called, are specially trained to provide the full spectrum of eye care, from prescribing corrective glasses and contact lenses and medications, to performing complex and delicate surgical procedures of the eye, including laser eye surgery, to prevent the occurrence of eye diseases and correct vision problems. Some ophthalmologists specialize in areas such as glaucoma, corneal disease, or reconstructive surgery. Many Eye M.D.s are also involved in scientific research into the causes and cures for eye diseases and vision problems.
Where Do Ophthalmologists Work?
The majority of ophthalmologists work in private practice and most of them have affiliations with hospitals.
What Do Ophthalmologists Earn?
Ophthalmologists’ salaries may vary because of several different factors, such as their employers, their practices’ characteristics, and their years of experience. According the Web site Salary.com’s collection of data from ophthalmologists nationwide, the median annual income for an ophthalmologist in 2017 was $277,000. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that physicians and surgeons, generally, in 2016 earned an annual median salary of $208,000 nationwide. In New York in 2017, physicians and surgeons generally earned an entry level median salary of $67,190. In 2017, across all experience levels, physicians and surgeons in New York earned a median salary of $167,570, and for experienced physicians and surgeons, they earned a median salary of $235,450.
Supply and Demand
In 2014, there were over 2,200 ophthalmologists practicing in New York, and approximately 18,600 practicing ophthalmologists nationwide, according to the Center for Health Workforce Studies and the American Medical Association’s 2015 Physician Masterfile.
Employment of physicians and surgeons, generally, is projected to grow 14.0% from 2014 to 2024, according to the BLS, and by 13.5% in New York during the same time period. Job growth will occur in this profession because of continued expansion of health care and related industries. The increase in the number of older adults in the U.S. population will also drive overall growth in the need for physician services as these consumers are likely to demand high levels of care using the latest technologies, diagnostic tests, and therapies.
The demand for ophthalmologists, specifically, should increase because of an increasingly older adult population in the U.S. who are likely to need ophthalmology care as well as technological advances in the field and extended health care benefits.
New York Education Requirements
Students applying to medical school must have at least 90 undergraduate credits, and a bachelor’s degree is preferred. Undergraduate education should focus heavily on science, with courses in physics, biology, and chemistry. Medical school applicants must take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
In addition to four years of medical school with classroom, laboratory, and supervised clinical training, and one year of internship, every Eye M.D. does a three- to four-year residency (hospital-based training) in ophthalmology. During the residency, Eye M.D.s receive special training in all aspects of eye care, including prevention, diagnosis, and medical and surgical treatment of eye conditions and diseases.
Often, an Eye M.D. spends an additional one to two years more beyond residency training in a subspecialty, that is, a specific area of eye care, such as glaucoma or pediatric ophthalmology.
For a list of medical schools in New York, click here.
New York Licensure Requirements
To be licensed in New York, ophthalmologists, like all other physicians, must graduate from an accredited medical school, complete an accredited residency program, and pass medical licensing examinations.
For more information on New York licensure requirements, go to: http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/med/.
Certification is a voluntary process and is not required, but most ophthalmologists do become board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology. Certification is granted to Eye M.D.s who successfully complete an accredited course of education in ophthalmology and an evaluation, including an examination process that evaluates both the knowledge and experience of the ophthalmologist through two examinations, a written qualifying examination and an oral examination.
For more information on board certification, go to: http://www.abop.org/become/req/index.asp.
Individual medical schools and residency programs have various financial aid and scholarship programs. Please check with each medical school to discover what options for funding an ophthalmologist education and residency program might be.
Ophthalmology Residency Programs in New York (subject to change)
|Albany Medical Center
Lions Eye Institute
1220 New Scotland Road
Slingerlands, NY 12159
|Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Montefiore Medical Center
1300 Morris Park Avenue
Bronx, NY 10461
(718) 430-2000 or (718) 430-2106
|Northwell Health North Shore University Hospital
300 Community Drive
Manhasset, NY 11030
|Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center
BronxCare Eye Care Center
1650 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10457
|Interfaith Medical Center
1545 Atlantic Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11213
|Mount Sinai School of Medicine
One Gustave L. Levy Place
New York, NY 10029
Nassau Health Care Corporation
2201 Hempstead Turnpike
East Meadow, NY 11554
|New York Eye and Ear Infirmary
310 East 14th Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 979-4181 or (212) 979-4000
|New York Medical College
Department of Ophthalmology
Westchester Medical Center
Valhalla, NY 10595
|Columbia University/New York Presbyterian Hospital
Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute
635 West 165th Street
New York, NY 10032
|Weill Cornell Medical College
New York-Presbyterian Hospital
Weill Greenberg Center
1305 York Ave. at East 70th St.
New York, NY 10021
|New York University School of Medicine
NYU Langone Medical Center
462 First Avenue, NBV 5N 18
Bellevue Hospital Building
New York, NY 10016
|St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center
1111 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10025
|Stony Brook University Medical Center
State University of New York
Health Sciences Center
Stony Brook, NY 11794-8223
|University at Buffalo
State University of New York
Ross Eye Institute
1176 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14209
|SUNY Downstate Medical Center
450 Clarkson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11203
|SUNY Upstate Medical University
Upstate Specialty Services
550 Harrison Center
Syracuse, NY 13202
|University of Rochester Medical Center
Flaum Eye Institute
601 Elmwood Avenue
Rochester, NY 14642
|Jamaica Hospital Medical Center
8900 Vanwyck Expressway
Richmond Hill, NY 11418
Additional Web Links
For additional information on ophthalmologists and eye care, go to:
New York State Ophthalmological Society: www.nysos.com
American Academy of Ophthalmology: www.aao.org
American Board of Medical Specialties: www.abms.org
Remedy’s Health Communities: http://www.healthcommunities.com/health-topics/eye-health.shtml