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Studies & Degrees in Opthalmology

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Ophthalmology is a professional medical field in which specialists diagnose and treat a variety of eye diseases.  They are also responsible for prescribing medication and may often perform eye surgery when the situation dictates it.  As a result, a medical degree and a residency is an absolute requirement to perform such work—a course of study that can often span six years or more following the presentation of an undergraduate degree.  However, students who wish to become ophthalmologists in the future can pursue a variety of science-related pre-medical bachelor degrees right now, degrees that will help them prepare and qualify for admission into medical school.  Additionally, students who wish to pursue careers in the ophthalmology field as technicians, assisting ophthalmologists with eye testing and the collection of data, may want to pursue a bachelor degree as an ophthalmology technician, although career positions in this field are very scarce due to ongoing competition.  For the purpose of this brief article, below we will concentrate on pre-medical bachelor degrees, including some of the disciplines students can pursue and the course content that often comprises these fields of study.
Bachelor Degrees Leading to a Career in Ophthalmology
Ophthalmology is a fairly broad field that combines science, medicine and surgery; a field in which ophthalmologists diagnose and treat eye disease in both children and adults.  Sub-specialties in this discipline can include cataract and refractive surgery, ocular immunology, ophthalmic plastic surgery and pathology, and neuro-ophthalmology, among others.
Students who wish to gain admission to medical school in preparation for a career in ophthalmology must first earn a bachelor degree or higher in a pre-medical related field—a field that may include anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, biology, pharmacology, pathology or another science-intensive discipline—subjects which often represent the initial year of medical school training. 
Bachelor of Science degrees leading to careers in ophthalmology generally span four years in duration and are open to all students who have earned a high school diploma or its equivalent.  To be successful in these programs, however, most institutions recommend that students have a strong background in science and mathematics, with above average grades in these subjects at the secondary school level.
The coursework for these pre-medical degrees will vary slightly depending on the specific discipline, but initially all students will need to complete courses in the physical and natural sciences, mathematics, language, composition and the humanities as prerequisites for their particular program of study.  Once accepted into the pre-medical bachelor degree program, students can expect to encounter coursework in subjects such as:
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Physics
  • Calculus
  • And more…
Students who successfully complete the pre-medical bachelor degree program of their choice will still have a long road ahead of them, but at minimum they will have attained a solid foundation on which to continue their studies at the medical school level. 
As mentioned above, in order to become a licensed ophthalmologist, graduates will need to earn a medical degree with a concentration in ophthalmology and complete a residency working in a hospital or other medical setting.  Additionally, to stay abreast of new techniques and procedures and to maintain board certification, continuing education is also required by practicing doctors.
At the end of this very long academic road, students will have gained the knowledge and skills to work as ophthalmologists in hospitals and clinics.  For their efforts, they can expect higher than average compensation that is commensurate with their knowledge and experience.