Residency Overview

Residency Program Structure:

Our program follows the general ophthalmology training guidelines outlined by the Residency Review Committee (RRC) of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

We rotate residents among hospitals and services, mixing comprehensive clinical and surgical experience with subspecialty experience. Instruction and clinical experience is available in all subspecialties of ophthalmology.

We have a combination of both full time faculty and part time voluntary faculty involved in resident education. There is regularly scheduled didactic instruction in the basic and clinical sciences, including an exposure to ophthalmic pathology. These sessions take place in small groups at the affiliate hospitals and with the larger group where all residents convene with faculty on Thursday afternoons. Our own faculty present the lectures and conferences with the addition of periodically scheduled guest faculty. There is an incorporated research block of lectures throughout the year with many outstanding vision scientists visiting the campus and sharing their ideas and lecturing on a host of topics.

Clinical Experience:

Each resident participates in a clinical rotation schedule that includes primary responsibility for patient care and provides access to adequate examination facilities. The rotations are organized to provide a stable, well-coordinated, progressive educational experience for the resident, in addition to providing high-quality health care to patients.

Surgical experience includes opportunities to work both as an assistant and as a first surgeon and provides exposure to surgical procedures for a wide range of ocular conditions, such as cataract, strabismus, glaucoma, retina-vitreous and oculoplastic problems.

Residents perform not only a significant number of surgical procedures, but an appropriate variety of procedures. All resident performance is adequately supervised both in the clinic and the operating room. At the same time, there is sufficient resident responsibility to allow for growth and maturation of clinical and surgical skills.


Our program's facilities include significant space and equipment in clinical areas, operating facilities and the availability of specialized equipment for diagnostic services such as ophthalmic photography, fluorescein angiography, electrophysiology, diagnostic ultrasound and perimetry (visual field testing).


The research opportunities in ophthalmology training programs vary considerably, as do the research interests of residency applicants. Our program offers protected research time to each resident and provides significant support to allow residents to complete research projects. Each resident must complete an approved research project in order to graduate.

Logistics of Applying for a Residency in Ophthalmology (as described by the American Academy of Ophthalmology):

The selection of residents and of residency programs is a matching process. As such, it works best when both you, the potential applicant, and the program have the appropriate information to make intelligent and comfortable decisions. The SF Matching Program was established to coordinate applicants with ophthalmology residencies and is separate from the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). Applicants are matched for post-graduate year two (PGY-2) positions, which begin about 18 months after the match.

The ophthalmology match for PGY-2 positions occurs in January, several weeks before the deadline for the NRMP match for PGY-1 positions. Thus, applicants will know their ophthalmology results before they submit their NRMP rank list. Every effort has been made to conduct this match as late as possible in your medical school career, to permit you sufficient time to make an informed decision and to give medical school deans and faculty time to evaluate students and prepare optimal letters of recommendation.

Some excellent applicants are intimidated by the statistics of the ophthalmology match. When they learn that many programs will have hundreds of applicants for a few places, they assume that they have little chance for success in that match. However, in the most recent match, more than 85 percent of participating U.S. seniors obtained a position. International Medical Graduates (IMGs) have a much greater challenge in obtaining a position, with a match rate of about 6 percent of participating candidates. If you are considering a residency in ophthalmology, you should become acquainted as early as possible with the SF Matching Program and the timetable for application procedures.