Student Portal > Career Counseling > Course Selection > Ophthalmology


Ophthalmology is the ideal career choice for students who are interested in, pursuing a specialty that includes a broad scope of practice including medicine and surgery, treatment of pediatric and adult patients, and primary care as well as highly specialized treatment. Ophthalmologists are historically amongst the most professionally satisfied physicians because of these opportunities to provide many different types of care and to pursue a wide range of research opportunities. Ophthalmology also offers the possibility for diagnostic and therapeutic precision that are unavailable in many other medical and surgical specialties. Most ophthalmologists practice a mixture of medicine and surgery ranging from the evaluation of patients with blurred vision and the standard medical treatment of conditions such as glaucoma all the way to the most delicate and precise surgical manipulations including laser surgery and intraocular surgery. At the same time, ophthalmologists are developing long term relationships with their patients and providing emergent care in many different critical situations such as trauma and sudden vision loss. Most ophthalmologists spend the majority of their time in the office seeing medical patients and one day a week in the operating room performing any number of different procedures depending on subspecialty interests. Ophthalmic manifestations of systemic disease are commonly encountered in practice and ophthalmologists often interact with physicians in many other fields. Ophthalmology has undergone a considerable degree of subspecialization with additional training available to pursue careers in cornea and external disease, glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology, oculoplastics, pediatric ophthalmology, medical and surgical retina, ocular pathology and ocular oncology. Opportunities for careers in academic ophthalmology (combined basic or clinical research with clinical practice) are numerous and readily available to physicians who prepare themselves appropriately. Ophthalmology is currently set up for an early match. Students are matched with residencies approximately 18 months before their starting date with the match completed in January of the senior year. The early match necessitates the application process to occur over the summer between third and fourth year with interviews generally occurring in November and December. A non-optho letter of recommendation will be needed for the optho application process.

School Required Sub-I Category:

For ophthalmology, there are several internship choices (e.g. medicine, pediatrics, transitional and surgery with pediatrics being least available). If you’re interested in medicine, a medicine sub-I is a good choice. If you prefer the other internship options, any sub-I (pediatrics, family medicine or emergency medicine) can be requested.

Department Required Course:

Pediatric Ophthalmology or Neuro-ophthalmology

Highly Recommended:

Medicine Sub-I
Plastic Surgery


Allergy and Immunology

To learn more about Penn's Department of Ophthalmology visit their website at

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