Higher Specialist Training in Medical Ophthalmology


The medical ophthalmology programme is a five year competence-based curriculum consisting of 3 core years followed by a minimum of 2 years of subspecialty training.

In the last decade ophthalmology has seen a vast expansion in medical treatments that has driven ophthalmology practice to become more medically based, allowing us to address the areas of greatest patient demand particularly in the specialties of medical retina, glaucoma and paediatric ophthalmology.

Advances in the specialty has now afforded us the opportunity to strategically plan to deliver the best eye care for our population in the 21st century coupling our ageing demographics and chronic eye diseases with preventable treatments, timely therapeutics and avoidable blindness.

In medical retina, new advances in intraocular injections and laser have revolutionised the treatment of two common sight-threatening conditions, namely age-related macular degeneration and diabetic maculopathy.  As these conditions are very responsive to the new therapies, the work is extremely rewarding.  The majority of cases of blindness are reversible and treatable through early diagnosis and intervention, including those medical in nature.

Medical ophthalmologists have varying roles in health care in Ireland. Consultant Medical Ophthalmologists work in the acute and/or non-acute setting. Graduates of the programme are trained to deliver general ophthalmology care with subspecialty expertise in glaucoma, paediatric ophthalmology and medical retina. Graduates may opt to continue with further subspecialty Fellowship training and practice in either the public or the private sector. Many ophthalmologists combine private practice with their HSE role.

There has been significant investment in the specialty in recent years due to demand for specialists in this area.  This will continue with the roll out of the Integrated Eye Care Team and appointment of new Consultant Medical Ophthalmologist posts nationally.

After successful completion of the 3 core years of Basic Training in Medical Ophthalmology*, trainees can compete to enter the Higher Specialist Training program provided they meet the selection criteria. Progression is based on performance in core training and by competitive interview.

Minor adjustments (5-7% of total score) may be made to the scorecard as required during each selection process.

*The HMT selection process for 2021 will be the final opportunity for applications from trainees who completed the basic specialty training programme (ie prior to the reconfiguration of basic training into separate medical and surgical pathways). From 2022 onwards trainees must have completed basic medical training in ophthalmology to be eligible to apply for HMT.


The purpose of the Higher Specialist Training in Medical Ophthalmology  programme is to provide in-depth training so as to equip doctors with skills so that they can independently practice as ophthalmologists. As such, the programme has a modular approach and is framed around the three subspecialties located at the core of future independent practice - medical retina, glaucoma and paediatric ophthalmology. Trainees, irrespective of preference and future career choice, need to complete all three modules to successfully complete their training. To reflect the diversity of the future career path of an ophthalmic specialist, training is located both within hospital-based training units as well as in community clinics.

Download the curriculum (PDF Document)

Medical Ophthalmologist's practice in the community, hospital or in private practice.

Thinking of a Career in Ophthalmology - a short guide from the Irish College of Ophthalmologists 

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 for supernumerary posts. The scheme facilitates doctors to continue their training in a flexible manner for a set period of time. 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.

Financial Supports

There are currently three schemes in operation which provide financial supports to NCHD's and Consultants, funded by the NDTP.

Details of the schemes can be found on the HSE website .