An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who spent three years after medical school learning about eye disease and surgery in an accredited ophthalmology residency program.

The pathway to becoming an ophthalmologist begins in medical school, where students are first exposed to the basics of eye disease and how it relates to overall health. Students who develop a particular interest in the eye attend an ophthalmology residency after medical school, but not before they work a year on hospital inpatient wards, learning critical information about health and disease of the entire human body. This knowledge is critical in understanding how disease in the body manifests as pathology in the eye.

Following a general medical internship, ophthalmologists spend three years learning the breadth of eye anatomy, disease, clinical diagnosis, and surgical treatment. Graduates of ophthalmology residency are skilled in treating the most common eye conditions, including cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration.

Many ophthalmologists continue their education after residency with one or two years of fellowship training in an ophthalmology subspecialty. The ophthalmologists at Shane Retina graduated from accredited U.S. ophthalmology residency programs, became board-certified, and completed a two-year subspecialty fellowship in vitreoretinal surgery.

Ophthalmologists can be distinguished from optometrists, who complete a four-year program in optometry after college. While optometrists are skilled in many aspects of eye care, they generally do not perform ocular surgery or subspecialize in the major categories of ocular disease.