Medical Ophthalmology

About the specialty: 

Medical Ophthalmology involves the medical assessment, investigation, diagnosis and management of disorders affecting vision, particularly:

  • Inflammatory disorders affecting vision (e.g. uveitis, scleritis, corneal graft rejection, systemic vasculitis
  • Vascular disorders affecting vision (e.g. diabetes, arteriosclerosis, hypertension, stroke)
  • Neurological disorders affecting vision (e.g. multiple sclerosis, stroke, pituitary disorders, thyroid eye disease)
  • Public visual health (e.g. diabetic retinopathy screening)

Ophthalmic physicians need to have varied clinical skills beyond expertise in the assessment and diagnosis of visual symptoms and signs. They must have expertise in immunosuppression, neurology and cardiovascular medicine. In addition many ophthalmic physicians will be involved in managing large diabetic retinopathy screening programmes, which require organisational and public health skills. Some will be required to manage retina-specific disorders requiring practical skills such as laser therapy and intra-ocular injections.

Ophthalmic medicine is predominantly out-patient based. The workload of an ophthalmic physician is varied ranging from the personal delivery of care such as laser therapy for diabetic retinopathy through to the intellectual challenge of neuro-ophthalmic disorders. It is also very rewarding with the majority of conditions responsive to therapy.

Entry into Medical Ophthalmology training is possible following successful completion of both a foundation programme and a core training programme. There are three possible core training programmes:

  • Core Medical Training (CMT)
  • Acute Care Common Stem - Acute Medicine (ACCS-AM)
  • Ophthalmic Specialist Training (OST) - ST & ST2 training and FRCOphth part 1
Latest news and developments: 

A 2015 curriculum has recently been approved by the GMC which includes the following amendments to the 2010 curriculum:

  • ST3 entry route for ophthalmic specialty trainees (OST). Trainees on this pathway will complete a period of core medical training during the MO programme
  • Closer alignment of MO trainee with the OST programme including a new core ophthalmology section with the addition of refraction and paediatric ophthalmology
  • Addition of clinical rating scales (CRS) assessent tools
  • Trainees will complete FRCOphth part 1 and the refraction certificate
  • Training has been extended to 5 years which brings it in line with OST training

Guidance on the implementation of the new curriculum is provided in the forms and guidance section of this page.


A new curriculum for Medical Ophthalmology will be implemented in 2021, subject to GMC approval.

The curriculum for each specialty defines the process of training and the competencies needed for the award of a certificate of completion of training (CCT). The curriculum includes the assessment system for measuring trainees’ progress comprising workplace based assessment and knowledge based assessment.

Doctors entering training from August 2015 and those transferring to the new curriculum should refer to ther 2015 curriculum. Trainees who are not transferring will remain on the 2010 curriculum.

PDF icon 2015 Medical Ophthalmology curriculum

Previous versions of the curriculum are no longer available online but copies can be requested from

ARCP Decision Aids: 

The ARCP decision aid for each specialty defines the targets that have to be achieved for a satisfactory ARCP outcome at the end of each training year. 

2015 Medical Ophthalmology ARCP Decision Aid

Forms and guidance: 

2017 National Trainee Survey report

The following report is based on the results of the 2017 National Trainee Survey. For copies of older reports email

PDF icon 2017 NTS Medical Ophthalmology Specialty Specific Questions.pdf

2015 curriculum implementation guidance

Guidance on the implementation of the 2015 curriculum is provided below.

PDF icon 2015 Medical Ophthalmology implementation guidance 271115.pdf