What is Ophthalmic Pathology?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 19 January 2020
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Ophthalmic pathology is the study of eye diseases and injuries, with a focus on understanding how damage occurs in the eye, and how doctors can prevent or treat it. People can pursue careers in this medical field by training in surgical pathology and specializing in the eye, or pursuing ophthalmology training and focusing on pathology topics. These medical professionals work with ophthalmologists on patient care and can also participate in activities like designing better eye protection to prevent injuries.

The eye is a complex structure and can be vulnerable to disease and injury, as well as congenital conditions. A specialist in ophthalmic pathology can examine medical imaging studies and samples from a patient's eye to learn more about what is happening in the eye and contribute to the process of developing a diagnosis and coming up with a treatment plan. This work can include diagnosing cancers and other diseases of the eye, as well as identifying structural abnormalities and damage caused by eye trauma.

In research, an ophthalmic pathologist can work on topics like developing better surgery techniques and coming up with effective treatment protocols for disease and eye injuries. This research can help preserve vision in patients with eye problems and improves the overall quality of care in the field of ophthalmology. Patients who go to research institutions for evaluation and treatment can benefit from new procedures and may be able to contribute material for research to help people with similar eye problems.


Ophthalmic pathology can also involve developing plans for preventing eye diseases and injuries. These include coming up with screening tests to identify eye problems early so they can be treated rapidly along with improving goggles, face shields, and other safety equipment for people who work in dangerous environments. People who study ophthalmic pathology can investigate topics ranging from injuries caused by chemical splashes to diabetic retinopathy.

Pay for specialists in ophthalmic pathology is quite variable, depending on the kind of work they do and where they work. People in private industry tend to make more money, while researchers working for the public benefit may have access to more research materials and equipment. The job often includes benefits like full medical care for practitioners and their dependents, and the hours in this specialty tend to be regular, as people call upon a specialist on ophthalmic pathology for assistance, rather than as a first-line care provider who needs to respond to emergencies.


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