What is Ophthalmology (Opthalmology)?

Ophthalmology is the medicine discipline which deals with the anatomy and diseases of the eye. An “ophthalmologist” refers to a specialist in both medical and surgical eye problems, as ophthalmologists perform operations on eyes.

The word “ophthalmology” has Greek , as “ophthalmos” means eye and logos means a word or a thought. Thereby ophthalmology can literally be translated as “the science of eyes”. As a discipline, it applies to animal eyes also. However, veterinary medicine is regulated separately in many countries and states. Therefore ophthalmologists treating both humans and animals are rare.

Ophthalmologists are medical doctors (MD/MBBS or D.O.) who have completed a college degree, medical school, and residency in ophthalmology. Ophthalmology was the first medicine discipline to offer board certification which is now a standard practice among all specialties. In many countries, ophthalmologistscan also undergo specialized training in one of the many subspecialities, as the ones listed below.

Ophthalmology sub-specialities:

  • Ocular oncology
  • Oculoplastics & Orbit surgery
  • Ophthalmic pathology
  • Refractive surgery
  • Uveitis/Immunology
  • Veterinary Formal specialty training programs in veterinary ophthalmology now exist in some countries
  • Vitreo-retinal surgery, deals with surgical management of retinal and posterior segment diseases and disorders
  • Anterior segment surgery
  • Cataracts — most general ophthalmologists perform cataract surgery, is not usually considered a subspecialty
  • Cornea, ocular surface, and external disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Medical retina,which deals with treatment of retinal problems through non-surgical means.
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Pediatric ophthalmology/Strabismus (mis-alignment of the eyes)

In america, certification by the American Board of Ophthalmology is a voluntary process. This process involves a written and an oral examination. A candidate who successfully passes becomes a Board Certified Diplomate of the American Board of Ophthalmology. Thus this person is entitled to use the letters D.A.B.O. after his or her name.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is the largest national membership medical association of ophthalmologists in America. +90 percent of practicing U.S. Eye M.D.s are AAO Academy members, and the Academy has more than 7,000 international members. The group has its headquarters in San Francisco, California.

The academy originated as American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology (AAOO), founded in 1896 as a medical association of both ophthalmologists and otolaryngologists, but was split in 1979 and divided into separate academies for each specialty. Outside the medical community it promotes public health information.