Ophthalmologists are physicians who diagnose and treat eye disease. Their responsibilities include writing prescriptions for glasses and contacts and conducting eye exams. They also perform eye surgery. Some ophthalmologists offer minor cosmetic surgery, specifically around the eye area. Subspecialties in ophthalmology include pediatric, glaucoma and cornea. They can keep bankers' hours and enjoy six-figure salaries.
According to a report in a 2009 edition of Ocular Surgery News, ophthalmologists enjoy high job satisfaction. A typical day involves interacting with patients and staff. Unlike optometrists, who merely diagnose, prescribe and treat minor eye ailments, ophthalmologists also treat serious eye conditions and perform surgery. They can even diagnose underlying health issues related to eye problems. They use high-tech equipment, such as ophthalmoscopes, powerful microscopes and magnifying lenses, to observe the inner workings of the eye.
Ophthalmologist in Training
Aspiring ophthalmologists obtain an undergraduate degree and must graduate from medical school. After medical school, they complete an internship and a minimum of three years of residency in a hospital. During residency, they get hands-on experience in diagnosing and treating eye disease. They may also choose a speciality, such as neuro-ophthalmology -- the treatment of eye problems related to the nervous system. Most ophthalmologists obtain certification through the American Board of Ophthalmology.
Working in a Hospital
Upon completion of education and certification, many ophthalmologists receive referrals to work as associates in a private practice. Others choose to work in clinics or hospitals. Whether working on call or regular hours, ophthalmologists who work at hospitals enjoy steady work and guaranteed pay. They get to leave billing, marketing, scheduling and staffing to office administrators. This allows them time to focus on patients. Ophthalmologists who work in hospitals or clinics often see more urgent and emergency cases.
A busy day for an ophthalmologist in private practice means seeing 12 to 15 patients a day. Most routine days consist of eye exams and follow-up visits. Depending on the practice, patients can range from infants to senior citizens. Eye emergencies and surgeries, treated at a hospital, can provide variety in the workday. Some of the most challenging work involves working with patients who are losing their sight. However, ophthalmologists can also help restore a patient's sight.
ML Corbett covers interior design, real estate and small business, among other topics. A former day spa owner and marketing manager for an international fragrance company, Corbett knows the ins and outs of the beauty industry. Her work has appeared in "Essence," "Black Enterprise" and on HGTVGardens.com.