Higher Specialist Training in Surgical Ophthalmology


The surgical ophthalmology programme is a seven-year competence-based curriculum consisting of 3 Basic Surgical Training years (BST) followed by 4 Higher Surgical Training (HST) years of subspecialty training. With the Award of the Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training (CCST) doctors are eligible to be registered on the specialist registrar of the Medical Council in the Division of Ophthalmic Surgery.

Surgical ophthalmologists perform microsurgical intraocular operations such as cataract extraction surgery or retinal detachment repair surgery. Most surgical ophthalmologists perform cataract surgery as well as sub specialising in another area. Although the eye is a very small organ there are a numerous subspecialties in ophthalmology.

The purpose of the Higher Specialist Training Programme in Surgical Ophthalmology is to provide in-depth surgical training so as to equip doctors with skills both in cataract surgery as well as in the subspecialties of anterior segment (corneal transplant), glaucoma (trabeculectomy), strabismus (squint surgery), orbit (enucleations), vitreo-retinal (retinal detachment repair), nasolacrimal and oculoplastic surgery.  Specialist trainees, irrespective of preference and future career choice, must undertake training in all subspecialties to successfully complete their training.

Following completion of Higher Specialist Surgical Training and with the award of CCST,  most trainees go on to complete a Fellowship in the subspecialty of their choice.



After successful completion of the 3 years of Basic Specialist Training in Surgical Ophthalmology, trainees can compete to enter the Higher Specialist Training program provided they meet the selection criteria. Progression is based on performance in Basic Specialist Training and by competitive interview held centrally in conjunction with the RCSI. Further information on the application process is available on the RCSI website.

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


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

  1. Cataract and Refractive Surgery
  2. Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus
  3. Corneal and External Diseases
  4. Glaucoma
  5. Vitreoretinal surgery, medical retina and ocular oncology
  6. Neuro-ophthalmology
  7. Oculoplastics and Orbital / lacrimal disorders

*Emergency Ophthalmology is embedded in the learning outcomes of the 7 different specialties listed above.

Download the curriculum (PDF Document)


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 .