What They Do:

Ophthalmologists are a specific kind of doctor who treats illness, diseases and conditions that affect the eye. While ophthalmologists can be thought of generically as 'eye doctors' and perform some of the same duties as optometrists, they differ in that ophthalmologists perform eye surgery and treat eye diseases. Ophthalmologists also examine eyes, screen for eye illnesses, and prescribe contact lenses and glasses.


  • Earn a 4-year bachelor's degree

  • Complete four years of medical school

  • Complete 3-8 years of internships and residencies.

Common undergraduate programs include pre-med, biology, and chemistry; coursework that will help prepare you for a career as an ophthalmologist include biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, organic chemistry, physics, and medical ethics.

Like any other kind of physician, ophthalmologists also need to pass a licensing exam in order to practice. State licensing requirements vary.

Ophthalmologists must have strong physics and math skills as well as a robust medical knowledge. Because many ophthalmologists also own their own practices, good management and administrative skills are also helpful.

What They Make:

Ophthalmologists employed in the US typically earn salaries that range from $112,745 to $385,128 a year. A median annual wage for ophthalmologists is $212,620. A median hourly wage is $100 as of 2019.

Where They Work:

Like other physicians, ophthalmologists can open their own private practice as a solo practitioner or with other physician partners. They can also work as an employee of a clinic, hospital or group practice.

Career Outlook:

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment outlook for physicians and surgeons in general is good, with an 4% increase in job openings from 2019-2029. (www.onetonline.org). 

Updated February 2021