NHS Education for Scotland Logo

Scottish Medical Training

Scotland - the home of medical excellence

Speciality: Ophthalmology (Medical)

Programme Description
GMC Reference: NOS/429

Specialty Information

Medical Ophthalmology is a holistic specialty which provides specific expertise in the diagnosis and medical treatment of people with disorders of vision.

Medical ophthalmologists are physicians with core medical training who are additionally trained in the specialist management of medical disorders affecting vision.

The predominant workload consists of the management of the main causes of permanent, but often preventable causes of visual impairment in the United Kingdom: • Inflammatory disorders affecting vision (e.g. uveitis) • Neurological disorders affecting vision (e.g. multiple sclerosis) • Retina specific disorders affecting vision (e.g. age-related macular degeneration) • Vascular disorders affecting vision (e.g. diabetes, diabetic retinopathy screening) • Ophthalmic procedures particularly laser therapy and local injection therapy

The increasing medical workload within ophthalmology now gives the option for doctors to train specifically in its medical aspects and to benefit from the same core medical training that other medical specialities receive. Consequently, this gives the patient the opportunity to be managed by an ophthalmic physician trained in all aspects of their care, rather than being co-managed by ophthalmology and another medical specialty.

Trainees are expected to achieve competency in the recognition, diagnosis and management of all the common medical conditions affecting vision as well as developing awareness and some management expertise of the rarer ones. As such during the four year medical ophthalmology training programme it is expected that the medical ophthalmology registrar will build on the general history taking competencies developed during foundation and core medical training as well as develop the specific skills needed to take an adequate visual system history.

Medical ophthalmology overlaps with many other specialties such as ophthalmology, dermatology, diabetes and endocrinology, infectious diseases, medical genetics, neurology, neurosurgery, rheumatology and stroke medicine. Leadership skills and the ability to work as a member of a team are important attributes.

Research, audit, teaching and management opportunities

Medical Opthalmology training is provided as a Scottish wide programme, ensuring optimal access to the range of subspecialty experience available. Placements across Scotland are managed by the North Deanery.

Our programme offers exposure to tertiary uveitis clinics, which also provide experience in the use of biological agents, in both Aberdeen and Glasgow. We can also offer good exposure to other Ophthalmic Medicine (Medical Ophthalmology) clinics including diabetes eye clinics, neuro-ophthalmology, medical retina, botulinum, laser and injection clinics.

The medical specialties are extremely welcoming to medical ophthalmology trainees and trainees are encouraged to participate fully in their clinics.

In Aberdeen trainees have one audit/research session per week. There is also a well established post graduate teaching programme for ophthalmology with one half day session every week with regular invited speakers.There is also a training session dedicated to medical registrars once every two months. There is also an active clinical research unit with a number of clinical trials in progress and trainees are encouraged to participate.

There is a well organized postgraduate teaching programme for ophthalmology in Glasgow and Aberdeen with regional teaching every week. Trainees are given the opportunity to present cases and there are invited speakers from all over the UK.

In both Aberdeen and Glasgow, medical students rotate through ophthalmology during term time and trainees are expected to teach within the clinic setting and with delivering more formal teaching. Medical ophthalmology trainees also assist with training nurses, optometrists and FY2 doctors. There are opportunities to receive more formal training in teaching through the University of Aberdeen.

There is a steep learning curve when starting medical ophthalmology and trainers are very aware and accommodating of this. The nature of the small specialty means that trainers take a lot of interest in trainees and are very supportive of their educational needs. This support has helped in ensuring that to date, all trainees have passed the relevant exams and those who have completed the programme have been appointed to consultant posts.

The first medical ophthalmology training programme started in Aberdeen in 1995 and there is a lot of experience both within the ophthalmology department, but also among the medical specialties, in training ophthalmic physicians (medical ophthalmologists). The medical specialties are all one site and so there are close links between the Eye department and the medical specialties. The size of the programme and department means that trainers take a keen interest in the progress of trainees and this fosters a good learning environment with a strong focus on producing consultants who are well rounded in all aspects of the job. There is one trainee in Aberdeen and one in Glasgow.

Where is the training delivered?
Training is delivered across:

NHS Grampian

NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde

Contacts and Useful Links
Programme Type Deanery based or National: National
Administration office West of Scotland
Lead Dean / Director Professor Alastair McLellan
Responsible Associate Postgraduate Dean or Assistant Director (GP) Dr Marion Slater
Specialty or Sub-specialty Specialty or Sub-specialty: Specialty
Date of GMC recent approval August 2010
Associated Royal College - Faculty
Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board (web site)
Curriculum and Associated Assessment System
Programme Administrator: Named Programme Administrator: Tayler Scott
Address: NHS Education for Scotland 2 Central Quay 89 Hydepark Street Glasgow G3 8BW
Programme Director Programme Director Name: Dr Justin McKee
Quality of Training Quality Management

How to Apply

Search Specialty
Training Opportunities