Cornea and External Disease

This subspecialty involves the care of the cornea, sclera, conjunctiva, and eyelids. Various different types of pathologic problems, both congenital and acquired,


Residency in ophthalmology requires 4 years of postgraduate training. There are currently 122 accredited programs, most of which are very small. It requires 1 internship year (internal medicine, surgery, or transitional) plus 3 years of ophthalmology training. The structure of individual programs varies greatly but must meet the basic requirements set by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Some programs utilize full-time faculty for teaching while others provide instruction through community-based ophthalmologists as part-time or volunteer faculty. Usually the first year of residency is spent in the clinic evaluating a wide variety of patients, mastering examination skills, and seeing consults within the medical center. The resident may also perform minor surgical procedures during this year. The second and third years involve rotations through subspecialties like pediatrics and oculoplastics, as well as much more time spent in the operating room, assisting with surgery and then later functioning as primary surgeon.


can affect these structures of the eye. These include, but are not limited to, corneal dystrophies, corneal tumors, infections, inflammation, and manifestations of systemic disease processes as they affect the anterior segments of the eye. Cornea surgeons are experts in corneal transplant—one of the most precise and delicate procedures one will ever see in an operating room. In this procedure, roughly 30 stitches are placed around an area 10-mm in diameter to anchor a donor cornea into place. Indications for such a surgery include severe bacterial and fungal infections, scars secondary to trauma, corneal dystrophy, and corneal protrusion disorders. Cornea surgeons are also experts in refractive surgery, among many other procedures.

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