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Speciality: Ophthalmology (Medical)

Programme Description
GMC Reference: NOS/429

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 five 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 internal medicine 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 West Deanery. Most trainees will spend their entire training in one region

Our programme offers exposure to tertiary uveitis clinics, which also provide experience in the use of biological agents, in both Edinburgh 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.

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.Trainees are encouraged to attend medical sub specialty post graduate training during their medical placements. Both Edinburgh and Glasgow have active clinical research units with a number of clinical trials in progress and trainees are encouraged to participate.

In both Edinburgh 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. 

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.

There is one trainee in Edinburgh and one in Glasgow.

Where is the training delivered?
Training is delivered across:

NHS Lothian 

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
Address: Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion, Chalmers Street, Ediburgh
Tel: 0131 536 1628 option 4
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