Since 1916, nearly 27,000 ophthalmologists have challenged
themselves to meet the rigorous certification standards established
by The American Board of Ophthalmology. The first medical specialty
board founded in the United States, The American Board of
Ophthalmology awards the only medical specialty certificate in
ophthalmology recognized by both the American Board of Medical
Specialties (ABMS) and the American Medical Association (AMA).
Certification is granted to ophthalmologists
who meet a series of accredited medical training requirements in
ophthalmology, sign a practice pledge indicating their intent to
practice with compassion, integrity and respect for human dignity,
and complete an intensive evaluation process which includes two
examinations: a Written Qualifying Examination (WQE) and an
Physicians who meet all of the requirements for initial
certification become diplomates of the Board and earn a certificate
valid for a period of 10 years. Since the early 1990s, all
Diplomates have been required to actively maintain their
certificate through a lifelong learning and practice improvement
process currently known as Maintenance of Certification in order to
extend the validity of that certificate .
The Certification Timeline
The certification application and examination process requires a
minimum of one and one-half to two years to complete, during which
time the candidate is usually in clinical practice or in a
fellowship program acquiring advanced training in one of the
subspecialties of ophthalmology.
Candidates who meet the eligibility requirements may apply to
sit for the WQE following completion of residency. The application
filing period runs from March to August 1 each year. The ABO
also accepts late applications from August 2 through October 1 with
a $300 late fee.
Passing the written examination allows a candidate to progress to
the Oral Examination, which tests clinical abilities. Upon
successful completion of the WQE, candidates are sent specific
instructions for registering for their assigned Oral Examination.
Oral Examinations are held twice per calendar year.