Overview of the Specialty

Ophthalmology deals with the structure, function, diagnosis and treatment of the eye and the visual system. It provides patients with total eye care using medical, surgical and rehabilitative services. Ophthalmologists typically work with a broad range of patients and usually over a long period of time.

At a Glance


  • 1 transitional/preliminary year
  • 3 years of residency
  • Categorical and advanced positions available

These are minimum requirements. Some programs may have longer residencies.


Anterior Segemt Surgery1 year
Cornea/External Disease1 year
Glaucoma1 year
Neuro-ophthalmology1 year
Oculoplastics2 years
Ophthalmic Pathology1 year
Pediatric Ophthalmology1 year
Retina/Vitreous2 years
Uveitis/Immunology1 year


Median, Academic Salary$304,000
Median, Clinical Salary$370,000

Source: Association of American Medical Colleges

Training Requirements

The length of training in ophthalmology must be at least three years. All applicants entering an ophthalmology training program must have taken a general postgraduate clinical year of training in a program accredited by the ACGME or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. There were 116 ophthalmology residency training programs accredited by the ACGME for 2014/15 that offered 465 advanced positions.

Matching Program Information and Match Statistics

Ophthalmology residency training programs participate in the Ophthalmology Matching Program through SF Match (sfmatch.org). Match results are summarized in the U.S. Match Statistics table below. The ophthalmology matching process is one of the “early match” programs:  the matching process is generally completed in late-January (about six weeks prior to the NRMP).

US Match Statistics





# Categorical/ Advanced positions available for U.S. Seniors465461460461
% U.S. Seniors matched*89%91%89%90%
# Unfilled Categorical/ Advanced Positions1153
# Unmatched U.S. seniors51414945

Source: SF Match (sfmatch.org) Opthalmology Residency Match Report.  *Competitiveness is based upon the percentage of U.S. Seniors who ranked each specialty as their only choice.

WUSM Match Statistics

For a list of WUSM match statistics for the past several years, please visit Search for WUSM Statistics. (password protected)

Subspecialty/Fellowship Training

Subspecialty/fellowship training following completion of an ophthalmology training program is available in cornea/external disease, glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology, ophthalmic pathology, oculoplastics, pediatric ophthalmology, vitreoretinal disease, and uveitis/immunology. Detailed information about the scope of these subspecialty training programs, number of positions offered, and length of training is available at the FREIDA website.

Visit AMA website »
Visit FREIDA website »

Career Information

FREIDA physician workforce information for each specialty includes statistical information on the number of positions/programs for residency training, resident work hours, resident work environment and compensation, employment status upon completion of program and work environment for those entering practice in each specialty.

Washington University Resources

Faculty Contacts

Susan M. Culican, MD, PhD362-5722
Morton E. Smith, MD*747-5559
John Lind, MD362-3857
Arsham Sheybani, MD747-6554

*Faculty involved in the residency selection process.

National Organizations