An Ophthalmologist (eye specialist) is a medical doctor with additional specialised training in all aspects of eye care namely medical, surgical and optical.
- 6-7 years of medical school
- 2 years of internship (house job)
- 3 years- 5 years of residency (hospital-based training) in the diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of eye disorders.
The duration of training is based on whether one pursues the Ghana college or West African college of surgeons programme to become a member or fellow of the respective college.
How does an ophthalmologist become certified?
After five years of medical school, two years of internship a future ophthalmologist must complete four to five years of internship at an accredited teaching hospital. The future ophthalmologist must then pass both a theory and clinical exam in optics and refraction, medical and surgical ophthalmology to become a member of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons. To become a fellow of the West African College of surgeons the future ophthalmologist must pass a Primary theory exam in the basic sciences and upon completion of 2 and a half years of work at a certified eye centre he must pass a part 1 exam in both medical surgical ophthalmology , optic s and refraction. Two and a half years later he must pass a theory and clinical exam in medical and surgical as well as community ophthalmology.
What is a Subspecialist?
While all ophthalmologists specialise in eye problems and can treat all conditions, some decide to specialise in a specific area of medical or surgical eye care. This person is called a subspecialist. He or she usually completes a fellowship, which is one or two more years of training in the chosen area. Some subspecialists focus on the treatment of a disease, such as glaucoma. Others subspecialise in a particular part of the eye such as the retina or orbit and oculoplastics. Paediatric ophthalmologists subspecialise in treating eye disease in children.
An optometrist is not a medical doctor, but a doctor of optometry who is licensed to practice optometry. Optometrists determine the need for glasses and contact lens and prescribe optical corrections. Optometrists do not perform surgery. In Ghana, Optometrists do a six year course in University and do a year’s internship at an accredited eye centre. They do not attend Medical School and are not trained in systemic diseases of the body but are trained to diagnose and refer potentially blinding
eye conditions like glaucoma, corneal ulcers etc.
An optician fits, adjusts and dispenses glasses, contact lenses and other optical devices on written prescriptions of a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist. Training for an optician varies.
How is an ophthalmologist different from an optometrist and an optician?
Ophthalmologists are different from optometrists and opticians in their training and in what they can diagnose and treat. As a medical doctor, an ophthalmologist is licensed to practice medicine and surgery. An ophthalmologist diagnoses and treats all eye diseases, performs eye surgery and prescribes and fits glasses and contact lenses. Optometrists however determine the need for glasses and contact lens as well as prescribe optical corrections. They are taught to identify and refer but not to treat potentially blinding conditions like glaucoma. They do not perform eye surgery.
An ophthalmic nurse
Is a trained state registered nurse who has had an additional one year training in eye care plus three months of internship in a teaching hospital. An ophthalmic nurse provides care to persons with disorders of the eyes including blindness or visual impairment. Their functions range from patient education to assistance in surgery.They are trained to diagnose and treat common eye conditions like bacteria conjunctivitis and allergic conjunctivitis and to diagnose and refer cases like cataract, glaucoma, cornea ulcers etc. to an ophthalmologist.