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What is an Ophthalmologist?

Ophthalmologist is a bit of a long and awkward word, isn’t it? All those PHs and’d be forgiven for needing a pronunciation guide!

If you’ve been wondering what is an Ophthalmologist, in a nutshell Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialise in disorders and diseases of the eye and visual system.


What is an Ophthalmologist?

How Does An Ophthalmologist Become Qualified?

It’s a long journey! In Australia and New Zealand, the requirement to be a fully qualified Ophthalmologist includes a minimum of 12 years of study.

We break it down like this:

* 5–7 years at a medical school, graduating with a degree in medicine,
* An internship followed by 2 years (minimum) as a newly qualified doctor undertaking basic medical training,
* 5 years of ophthalmic specialist training and successful completion of examinations set by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO).

What’s The Difference Between An Ophthalmologist And An Optometrist?

An Ophthalmologist is a medically trained specialist and surgeon. While an Optometrist can do eye examinations and help detect the presence of eye diseases, their main role is to prescribe and fit your glasses or contact lenses.

If your Optometrist detects eye disease or issues requiring treatment, they cannot offer you medical treatment themselves. Rather, they will refer you to an Ophthalmologist to make the diagnosis, advise you of your treatment options and undertake your treatment or surgery. If you need urgent treatment but your Optometrist can’t get you into a specialist colleague, then they may commence a non-surgical treatment until you can be seen.

The other difference is the time needed to qualify. An Optometrist will typically study a 4-year university degree, then complete 1 year of professional experience before registering as a qualified professional.

What is an Ophthalmologist? Dr Shanel Sharma and Dr Alina Zeldovich

What Eye Conditions Does An Ophthalmologist Treat?

We diagnose and treat a wide range of eye conditions – too many to mention here! These are some of the common symptoms people who attend our clinic are experiencing:

* Near-sightedness and far-sightedness
* Itchy eyes
* Painful areas in and around the eye
* Blurred vision
* Seeing spots or flashes of light
* Light or glare sensitivity
* Discharge in the eye
* Bulging eyes
* Frequent headaches
* Swelling or redness in the eye.

    Some of the specific conditions we treat once diagnosed include:

    * Cataracts
    * Macular degeneration
    * Conjunctivitis
    * Eye tumours
    * Retinal problems
    * Conjunctivitis
    * Proptosis
    * Ocular injury.

      How Do I Find An Ophthalmologist?

      If you’re in Australia or New Zealand, find an Ophthalmologist using the RANZCO search feature. Add your country, state and postcode, and you will find a list of Ophthalmologists near you.

      Every country has its governing body for Ophthalmologists so if you’re located elsewhere, find the professional organisation that governs these doctors in your country, and see if they have a directory or search feature. You can contact them for more information.

      Shanel Sharma and Alina Zeldovich are registered Ophthalmologists who practice in Sydney, Australia. Dr Zeldovich appears on the RANZCO Honour Roll and is the Honorary Secretary of the NSW branch of RANZCO. Dr Sharma has served on the RANZCO Examining Committee since 2012. They are the creators of Beamers protective sunglasses.