Ophthalmology - Medical specialists

Ophthalmology is a branch of medicine that concerns the anatomy, physiology and diseases of the eyeball. Thus, an ophthalmologist specialises in medical and surgical eye problems. Since the discipline includes eye surgery, an ophthalmologist is qualified both as a surgeon and as a doctor.


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Ophthalmology - Further information

Schematic diagram of the human eye

Which illnesses do ophthalmologists treat?

As befits their training, ophthalmologists can offer a comprehensive eye care service, which includes the following tasks:

Medical eye care

This relates to a host of conditions, such as:

  • glaucoma – a group of eye diseases, which cause optic nerve damage and vision loss
  • macular degeneration – an age-related disease causing painless loss of central vision
  • iritis – an inflammation of the coloured ring (iris), which surrounds the pupil of the eye
  • chemical burns

Surgical eye care

This relates to the diagnosis, treatment and management of common causes of eye damage and impairment, such as:

  • trauma as a result of an accident or injury
  • common eye diseases and conditions (e.g. cataracts and glaucoma)
  • various kinds of impaired vision, such as strabismus (crossed eyes)

Diagnosis and treatment of other diseases

Many diseases, such as diabetes or arthritis, can be diagnosed and monitored via the condition of the eyes, or certain conditions may affect eye health as they progress.

Plastic surgery

An ophthalmologist may advise on cosmetic or reconstructive eye surgery – for example, to raise droopy eyelids, remove bags under the eyes or to smooth out wrinkles around the eyes.

What treatment methods are used by ophthalmologists?

The treatment provided by ophthalmologists covers a full range of eye care needs, from vision services, such as eye exams and prescription lenses, and advice on recommended medications used to manage eye conditions, through to complex eye surgery, which cannot be undertaken by any other eye care professionals.

Some of the broad range of surgical techniques and procedures that an ophthalmic surgeon may be asked to perform, include:

  • laser eye surgery – such as procedures to correct short-sightedness (myopia), long-sightedness (hypermetropia) and astigmatism (an uneven curving on the surface of the eye)
  • cataract surgery
  • glaucoma surgery
  • canaloplasty (a procedure used to boost the eye’s natural drainage system)
  • refractive surgery (used to correct errors of focus or refraction in the eye, to reduce or eliminate the need for corrective lenses)
  • corneal surgery (including corneal transplants and fitting a keratoprosthesis or artificial cornea)
  • vitreo-retinal surgery (including detached retina repair and macular hole repair)
  • eye muscle surgery (usually performed to correct strabismus or crossed eyes)
  • oculoplastic surgery (cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, for example, on eyelids, or tumour removal in and around the eye region)
  • surgery involving the lacrimal (teardrop) system
  • eye removal (various procedures to ease pain or halt the progression of a disease)


Focus of treatment