Ophthalmic surgeon qualifications

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:48 pm
All ophthalmic (off-THAL-mick), or eye, surgeons are ophthalmologists (off-thul-MAHL-uh-jists), meaning they're trained as medical doctors, so they're qualified to deal with all pathologies of the eye, as well as refractive errors. They shouldn't be confused with optometrists (op-TOM-uh-trists), who are also called eye doctors and are licensed and trained to diagnose refractive errors and treat non-medical problems with corrective glasses or contact lenses. Ophthalmologists are the only ones qualified to recommend and apply surgical remedies. After graduating from medical school, an ophthalmologist spends three more years learning about diseases and surgeries of the eye, and all ophthalmologists are surgeons. In order to be what is known as board-certified in a certain specialized area of practice in a particular state, the physician must pass a written, oral, and practical certifying exam and then take either 15 hours of continuing education per year or 100 hours every four years. Some of these doctors focus on various problems of specialized parts of the eye, such as the retina (RET-uh-nuh), cornea, iris, or lens. Others specialize in children's eye problems or do only specific kinds of surgery, such as for cataracts or retinal problems. Others are cosmetic ophthalmologists, also called oculoplastic (AWK-you-low-plas- tic) surgeons, specialists in plastic surgery of the eyes. A cosmetic ophthalmologist has extensive and specific training in the eye, the eyelids, and all areas around the eye, and performs only cosmetic or reconstructive eyelid work.
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