Ophthalmologist Job Facts

An ophthalmologist job involves correcting vision and treating diseases and disorders of the eye and optic nerve, sometimes with surgery. Unlike optometrists, ophthalmologists are physicians and surgeons.

Basic Tasks of an Ophthalmologist Job

These doctors work in clinics and health facilities. They usually work independently or with a team of other ophthalmologists and eye health professionals. Since most procedures are outpatient procedures, few ophthalmologists work in hospitals. Some also work for universities by performing research or teaching.

They can work with patients of any age and can specialize in different procedures. While performing clinical services, an ophthalmologist can see upwards of 30 patients a day. (They often see up to five patients simultaneously since it can take up to 45 minutes for dilation to take effect.)

Ophthalmologists that perform surgeries will usually have one or two surgery days each week and have clinical hours throughout the remainder of the week. Though emergencies are infrequent, they can also occur. Some also have teaching duties, so they will perform rounds with medical students in a teaching hospital.

Ophthalmology is a technology-heavy field, with many ophthalmologists working with diagnostic tools and measuring devices to assess the problem, rather than performing a hands-on examination. Most surgeries are performed with lasers. Ophthalmologists try to create the smallest incisions and work with precision. Most of the procedures are performed relatively quickly without long recuperation periods. Patients can experience improvement within hours or days, so patient satisfaction is very high, a factor which increases the job satisfaction of ophthalmologists.

The Schedule for an Ophthalmologist Job

Most ophthalmologists work full-time Monday through Friday. Though they are on call for emergencies, emergencies are rare in this field. With fewer emergencies and most questions handled by a phone call, many ophthalmologists do not have to work on evenings and weekends, unlike other surgeons and physicians.

Ophthalmologist Salary

Based on the data from Simply Hired Salary, ophthalmologists make an average of $70,000 per year, whereas eye surgeons make $39,000 per year. However, some of the positions included in the data could be for technicians employed in these fields, or professionals working in part-time positions. Other sources list the full-time salaries of ophthalmologists as much higher.

According to Salary.com, the average annual salary of ophthalmologists is approximately $245,000. Eye surgeons that perform LASIK surgery in a clinic will usually make $125,000 to $150,000 per year. According to Allied Physicians, the maximum salary for ophthalmologists is $511,000 per year and retina ophthalmologists, one specialty in this field, can receive a maximum of $716,000 per year. According to the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest-paying states are Wyoming, North Carolina and New Jersey.


There are general ophthalmologist positions where they perform cataract removal, treat glaucoma and retinal disorders, such as diabetic retinopathy. LASIK and refractive surgeries are performed by ophthalmologists that specialize in this field. Ophthalmologists can also specialize in the front of the eye, back of the eye and optic nerve treatments. Some ophthalmologists will also perform oculoplastic surgeries that repair the orbit of the eye after a fracture or other injury. They may repair tear ducts and performing surgeries on eyelids. Other ophthalmologists will specialize in treating nerve issues, such as tumors affecting the optic nerve or brain and inflammatory conditions that affect these nerves.