Specialist Training in Surgical Ophthalmology


The surgical ophthalmology curriculum is an eight-year competence-based curriculum consisting of 3 common core years followed by 5 years of subspecialty training.

Surgical ophthalmology refers to ophthalmologists who perform microsurgical intraocular operations such as cataract extraction surgery or retinal detachment repair surgery. Surgical ophthalmologists nearly all perform cataract surgery as well as specialize in one of eleven different surgical subspecialties. Although the eye is a very small organ there are 10 subspecialties involved in the practice of surgical ophthalmology.

The purpose of the Higher Ophthalmic Surgical Training is to provide in-depth surgical training so as to equip trainees with skills both in cataract surgery as well as in the surgical subspecialties of anterior segment surgery (corneal transplant), glaucoma (trabeculectomy), strabismus (squint surgery), orbit (enucleations), vitro-retinal (retinal detachment repair), nasolacrimal and oculoplastic surgery. Higher Surgical trainees, irrespective of preference and future career choice, need to complete training in all subspecialties to successfully complete their training. Most trainees go on to complete a Fellowship in the subspecialty of their choice.

After successful completion of the 3 core years of training, trainees can compete to enter the higher surgical training program provided they meet the selection criteria. Entry to the programme is by competitive interview held centrally in conjunction with the RCSI. Further information on the application process is available on the RCSI website.

There are 10 sub-specialties in ophthalmic surgery and the training programme covers all 10.

  1. Cataract and Refractive Surgery
  2. Paediatric Ophthalmology
  3. Corneal and External Diseases
  4. Glaucoma
  5. Vitreoretinal surgery
  6. Neuro-ophthalmology
  7. Oculoplastics
  8. Orbital/lacrimal disorders
  9. Strabismus
  10. Ocular Oncology

Download the curriculum (PDF Document)


All trainees must keep a record of their surgical and clinical procedures. eLogbook is an online system which facilitates doctors to keep a complete record of procedures performed. 

Ophthamology Trainees use an eLogbook.
Further information and to register for an online account is available at www.elogbook.org

Trainees are assessed every six months in the Irish College of Ophthalmologists.
Trainees must submit two weeks in advance of their assessments the following documentation::

  1. Trainers Report Form
  2. Up to date CV, including contact details
  3. Summary of logbook, including courses, examination completed, meetings & lectures attended, presentations & publications
  4. Current timetable
  5. HST Assessment Form


The ICO will consider applications for out of programme experience (OPE). The application for OPE must be made to the Dean of Post Graduate Education. Applications for OPE must be made 6 months in advance of the expected start date. OPE activities which further your training programme must be approved by the Dean. Advice can be sought from research supervisors, educational supervisors or the Training Director as necessary. You must complete all documentation recording out of programme progress in the grade to ensure that the Dean is aware of your location and intentions when you are undertaking research or other recognised activities outside the Irish hospital service, taking leave of absence or gaining experience abroad.

If you are employed outside the Irish hospital service and you cease to pursue, for any reason, the research or other activity which has been agreed, you must inform the Dean promptly. It will then be decided, in consultation with the ICO Training Committee, whether it is appropriate for you to remain within the programme. If you are employed outside the Irish hospital service and wish to begin or return to the Training Programme, you must accept a reasonable offer of a suitable placement. Offers of placements will, as far as possible, take into account your training need.

The Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (FRCSI) is the exit appraisal for the Specialist Training in Ophthalmology (STSO) programme.

The FRCSI examination is a test of competence to practice as an independent specialist (consultant) in ophthalmic surgery and is aimed at trainees who are coming to the end of their Specialist Training in Ophthalmology. The MRCSI is an entry requirement for the FRCSI and candidates for the FRCSI must be in their final year of Specialist Training in Surgical Ophthalmology in Ireland. The award of FRCSI (Ophth) requires both success in the FRCSI examination and the documented and satisfactory completion of specialist training.

For further information on the funding available from the HSE Medical Education & Training Unit for exam fees please review this document

It is essential that trainees achieve both the surgical and clinical, personal and professional competences defined in the surgical curriculum to be eligible to exit the program. An exit exam is taken in the final years of training (usually year 7 or 8). Award of the CCST will allow the Higher Surgical Trainee to be registered on the ophthalmic surgery registrar of the Medical Council and will indicate that the trainee has reached the curricular standards of competence to practice independently as a Ophthalmic Surgeon in Ireland.

The medical workforce is changing and, over recent years, numerous reports have pointed to the importance of providing flexible working arrangements for doctors.

The HSE National Flexible Training Scheme for Specialist Trainees is a national scheme managed and funded by NDTP equivalent to 12 whole WTE fully funded supernumerary posts, i.e. up to 24 participants at any one time.

The scheme facilitates doctors at higher specialist training level to continue their training in a flexible manner for a set period of time.

Trainees must be enrolled in a Specialist Training Programme under the auspices of one of the postgraduate medical training bodies recognised by the Medical Council in Ireland.

The HSE National Flexible Training Scheme Guide sets out details of the National Flexible Training Scheme and provides information for trainees, training bodies and employers about the programme.

If you wish to apply to the HSE National Flexible Training Scheme please complete and submit the application form.