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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 are part of a larger Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) occupational category, “physicians and surgeons”. According to the 2019 BLS, the average salary for full time, ophthalmologists nationwide was $295,431.

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/.

Board Certification

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.

Financial Support

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
and the Lions Eye Institute
1220 New Scotland Road
Slingerlands, NY 12159
(518) 439-5810
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Montefiore Medical Center
1300 Morris Park Avenue
Bronx, NY 10461
(718) 430-2000
Northwell Health North Shore University Hospital 
300 Community Drive
Manhasset, NY 11030
(516) 465-8460
Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center
BronxCare Eye Care Center
1650 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10457
(718) 590-1800
Interfaith Medical Center
1545 Atlantic Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11213
(718) 869-7815
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai 
One Gustave L. Levy Place
New York, NY 10029
(212) 241-0939
Nassau University Medical Center
2201 Hempstead Turnpike
East Meadow, NY 11554
(516) 572-6706
New York Eye and Ear Infirmary
310 East 14th Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 979-4000
New York Medical College
Westchester Medical Center
Valhalla, NY 10595
(914) 493-7671
Columbia University/New York Presbyterian Hospital
Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute
635 West 165th Street
New York, NY 10032
(212) 342-5293
Weill Cornell Medical College
New York-Presbyterian Hospital

Weill Greenberg Center
1305 York Ave
New York, NY 10021
(646) 962-2053
New York University School of Medicine
NYU Langone Eye Center
222 E 41st St
New York, NY 10017
(212) 263-2573
  Stony Brook University Medical Center
State University of New York
Health Sciences Center
101 Nicolls Rd
Stony Brook, NY 11794
(631) 638-2698
University at Buffalo-SUNY
Ross Eye Institute
1176 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14209
(716) 881-7900
SUNY Downstate Medical Center
450 Clarkson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11203
(718) 270-1961
SUNY Upstate Medical University
Upstate Specialty Services
550 Harrison Center
Syracuse, NY 13202
(315) 464-5253
University of Rochester Medical Center
Flaum Eye Institute

601 Elmwood Avenue
Rochester, NY 14642
(585) 273-3937
Jamaica Hospital Medical Center
8900 Vanwyck Expressway
Richmond Hill, NY 11418
(718) 206-6000

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


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