Eye Doctor

How to Become an Eye Doctor

eye doctor

Becoming an eye doctor requires at least 12 years of education and training. First, a student must complete a bachelor’s degree and then a four-year medical school program. After graduating, ophthalmologists must complete a transitional internship year and an ophthalmology residency.

An ophthalmologist diagnoses and treats glaucoma, corneal problems, and retinal issues. They also perform a variety of surgeries to correct vision. Contact Dry Eye Baltimore, MD now!.

Educational Requirements

To become an ophthalmologist or eye doctor, you need to complete at least eight years of education and training after earning your bachelor’s degree. This includes four years of medical school, followed by a year-long internship and then three to four years of ophthalmology residency.

During the medical school years, you learn about biology and anatomy, the fundamentals of medicine, patient history and physical examination, diagnosis and treatment. During the internship and ophthalmology residency, you spend most of your time learning about how to diagnose and treat diseases and other problems affecting the eyes and vision.

After medical school, you must pass all three parts of the United States Medical Licensing Examination. The Academy believes the American public deserves medical professionals with authority that is matched by professional capability, as demonstrated by extensive, directly supervised patient-care experience and validated by examinations.

Prerequisites for optometry school vary by program, but most schools require a bachelor’s degree and undergraduate science courses with lab components. You must also take and pass the Optometry Admission Test, or OAT. Some schools may require you to have job-shadowing or volunteering experience with an optometrist for a minimum of 8 hours before you apply to graduate from optometry school.

In addition to rigorous classes, you must also have the patience and dedication to work with small patients and delicate eyes. It is critical to be open to new technologies and procedures, too, as the field of ophthalmology continually evolves. If you’re ready to put in the time and effort, a career as an ophthalmologist or eye doctor could be perfect for you. Pacific’s programs are designed to help you develop the skills needed for success in this rewarding field.


In preparation for graduate study in optometry, students need to fulfill certain science prerequisites. Many schools recommend that students take courses such as chemistry, biology and biochemistry. Students should also fulfill other non-academic requirements, including job shadowing or volunteering with an optometrist for a minimum of 8 hours. Other non-academic requirement include the submission of two confidential assessment forms, which can be completed by a professor, employer, minister, coach or anyone who knows the student well and can provide character references.

Medical school is a four-year program that requires students to take course work in the basic sciences, such as anatomy, physiology, genetics and cell biology, microbiology and immunology, and pharmacology. There are also extensive clinical rotations in which students manage patients with a variety of systemic conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Optometry school takes two years to learn how to perform eye examinations, fit glasses and contact lenses, and treat some eye diseases and disorders. In addition, students take theory-based courses on vision and learning, contact lenses and geometrical optics, and the behavioral and perceptual aspects of vision.

Patients have the right to expect their medical professionals to be competent and safe. This is why national standards and regulations for education, training, testing and licensure are set in place. They ensure that the public is served by physicians who possess appropriate professional qualifications, based on extensive, directly supervised patient-care experience and formal demonstration of competency with validated outcomes of care.


The eye doctor performs various examinations to test the health and function of the eyes. These tests range from basic visual acuity readings to using a microscope to examine the front of the eye. The exam includes questions about any problems you have and your family’s eye history. The doctor may use eye drops to open the pupils, a process called dilation. It can make your vision blurry for a few hours afterward.

A refraction test determines your prescription for glasses or contacts. The doctor positions an instrument with a number of different lenses in front of your face and asks you to identify symbols on an eye chart. The doctor then selects the lens that corrects your vision most effectively and uses it to write your prescription.

An assessment of accommodation, ocular motility and binocular vision measures how well your eyes focus, move and work together. The doctor checks for problems that keep your eyes from focusing properly or make it difficult to use both eyes together, such as strabismus (crossed eyes) or amblyopia (lazy eye).

The doctor also checks how the muscles in the eye move and how the eyes adjust to light and objects. The doctor shines a light in the pupil and watches how the pupils react by getting smaller or wider. This reveals many eye conditions, such as cataracts, glaucoma and detached retinas.

The doctor also measures the fluid pressure in your eye (intraocular pressure). A device called a tonometer injects a puff of air into your eye. It helps detect glaucoma, which can damage the optic nerve and lead to blindness. The doctor can also check the health of your optic nerve by shining a beam of light on the back of your eye. The optic nerve is located inside the retina, in the center of your eye. The optic nerve connects the brain to the eyes and helps control eye movement, focus and depth perception.


When you have a comprehensive eye exam, your doctor will use a variety of tests and procedures to determine the health of your eyes. These can include the simple test of reading letters on an eye chart to measure your visual acuity, as well as more complicated assessments using a tool called a slit lamp that magnifies and illuminates the front of your eyes, including the cornea, iris, lens and conjunctiva. A slit lamp also allows your doctor to look at the back of your eye, called the fundus, to check for signs of certain conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy and cataracts.

Eye doctors will also look at your eye muscle movement and how your pupils respond to light, such as in a pupil constriction test or the cover test. Your doctor may also look for blind spots in your peripheral or “side” vision, which are typically caused by glaucoma and can be a sign of other health problems, such as strokes or tumors. Eye exams for children are different, and pediatricians may keep a close watch for strabismus, amblyopia or other eye or vision problems at regular well-child checkups.

Before beginning any of the tests, your eye doctor will ask questions about your vision symptoms and overall health, including family history. You should be able to explain when your eye or vision problems started, as well as any medications you take and any work-related or environmental factors that might affect your vision. After the testing is complete, your eye doctor will analyze the results and recommend any treatment options. This may involve further testing or consultation with another doctor, such as a retina specialist.

Job Duties

The job duties of an eye doctor involve a wide range of tasks. Some of the most important tasks include performing eye examinations, prescribing vision lenses and frames, identifying patients with certain disorders and treating these conditions. Other duties may include providing referrals to ophthalmologists for specialized treatment. The ophthalmologist may also conduct research and development on new technologies to treat the eyes and other parts of the body.

Most optometry professionals work in private practice, but some have jobs in hospitals or correctional settings. In addition, ophthalmologists can find positions as consultants, researchers and educators.

Some recent ophthalmologist graduates start their careers as associates or partners in established practices. This can be a good way for new grads and young doctors to evaluate whether or not a particular practice is a suitable fit before making the decision to become independent or establish their own solo practices. The DOA can help new grads with the basics of joining an existing optometric practice, including negotiating basic employment contracts, tackling legal issues, reviewing methods of income division and making the partnership work.

In addition to the ophthalmologist’s daily clinical duties, they are responsible for the office staff and overall management of the practice. In some cases, they have assistant ophthalmic nurses who assist with more complicated and technical medical tests and office surgery.

The most successful eye care practitioners have strong communication skills. This extends from the manner in which patients are greeted and dealt with on their first telephone contact, to their office appearance and personnel. Many potential patients decide to visit a specific eye care practice by their initial impression of the office and staff.