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Residency

The Gavin Herbert Eye Institute at UC Irvine's School of Medicine offers an ophthalmology residency program that is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). We adhere to all common and ophthalmology-specific program requirements outlined by the ACGME.

Resident trainees receive intensive and wide-ranging clinical and surgical experiences as well as opportunities to conduct meaningful research. An excellent formal didactic curriculum supplements the clinical and surgical training. Graduates are thoroughly prepared to enter a comprehensive ophthalmology practice or top subspecialty fellowships.

Our residency program has a strong clinical and educational foundation across a broad spectrum of eye diseases and injuries. Resident trainees gain extensive in-depth clinical experiences at diverse teaching hospitals: UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange, the VA Long Beach Healthcare System and Kaiser Foundation Hospital-Bellflower. The patient populations at these hospitals make up a cross-section of age, demographic and socioeconomic groups.

Distinguished UC Irvine faculty members representing the full range of ophthalmology services train a total of nine residents, including three new residents who are admitted each year. These specialists are committed to the goals of teaching, patient care and applied research. The smaller size of the residency program allows for extensive direct training and interaction with the entire faculty.

Learn more about our ophthalmology residency program:

Clinical Rotations »

First year-PGY 2

The first year of training begins with a two-week introduction to the ophthalmology program, as well as to the School of Medicine's policies and procedures. First-year residents next begin clinical rotations at either the medical center in Orange or the VA hospital in Long Beach. For the first month, the resident gains experience in the practice of direct skills, including patient examination, refraction and  ophthalmoscopy supervision. The senior resident and attending faculty members provide direct supervision and back-up.

By the second month, first-year residents are performing minor surgical procedures such as lasers and office-based oculoplastic surgery. By the end of the first year, residents usually have performed one or two intra-ocular operations. The annual rotation is a total of four months at UC Irvine Medical Center and eight months at the VA.

Second year-PGY 3

Second-year residents have increased autonomy and gain supervisory responsibilities for first-year residents and medical students. Second-year residents perform two to four surgeries a month and gain additional experience in laser procedures. The annual rotation is eight months at UC Irvine Medical Center and four months at the VA.

Third year-PGY 4

In the third year, the emphasis is on surgical mastery. Residents perform four to 12 cases a week. They also are responsible for supervising the clinical activities of junior residents.

A chief resident selected from among the third-year class takes on additional administrative duties, including schedule preparation, surgical assignments and serving as a representative of residents at faculty meetings. Third-year rotations are four months each at the medical center in Orange, the VA and at Kaiser Foundation Hospital-Bellflower.

Clinical and Basic Research »

Research is an important aspect of the ophthalmology residency program. Residents are required to complete at least one research project that is worthy of publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Submission of the completed paper is expected before graduation.

Each resident must submit a research proposal by the fall of the first year, outlining the aims, methods and budget for the project. First-year residents are expected to present this along with possible preliminary data at the annual resident's research day in May. For the remainder of the first year and into the second year of residency, more data are collected and analyzed. A paper or thesis is written under the supervision of a research mentor, with final results and conclusions presented at the May or June research day.

Third-year residents are expected present a completed research project that has been submitted—or is suitable for submission—to a peer-reviewed journal.

Department financial support is available to attend major scientific meetings when the resident is the first author on a paper or abstract. A request for financial assistance must be made in advance to the Residency Education Committee.

Didactic Education »

All residents are required to attend the Basic Clinical Science Lecture Series presented by faculty members on Wednesday afternoons throughout the academic year. All subspecialty topics are covered in this 18-month series of lectures, which are followed by weekly lectures.

Academic clinics usually are canceled to ensure residents can attend lectures. Weekend, early morning and evening lectures are avoided, when possible.

Other regular academic sessions include:

  • Journal club (monthly) 
  • Refractive surgery rounds (monthly)
  • Management rounds (informal case presentations once or twice a month)
  • Grand rounds (formal case presentations once a month)
  • Ethics/chair rounds (monthly)
  • Morbidity and mortality rounds (monthly)
  • Ocular imaging conference (monthly)
  • Veterans affairs quarterly conference

Residents also are required to attend sponsored wet labs, lectures given by guest speakers, events sponsored by Continuing Medical Education and billing seminars, as well as financial and career workshops.

Surgical Training »

Surgical training increases gradually during the residency program, with an emphasis on gaining clinical proficiency and competence by the end of the second year.

A state-of-the-art wet lab with Zeis microscope is available. Residents must achieve competency in basic techniques in the wet lab prior to engaging in active human patient surgical care.

By the end of the third year, residents will have performed the approximate number of the following procedures:

  • Cataract - 210-260
  • Strabismus - 10-20
  • Corneal surgery - 10-20
  • Glaucoma filtering - 5
  • Glaucoma laser - 25-30
  • Retina/vitreous - 5-10
  • Other retinal - 100-150
  • Oculoplastics/Orbit - 85-125
  • Globe trauma - 5-10
Resident Advocacy »
Residents are a vital part of the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, School of Medicine and UC Irvine Medical Center community. Residents attend monthly quality improvement meetings with the department chair and the program director to discuss system improvements.

The chief resident is the representative and advocate for all residents, responsible for attending monthly department faculty meetings and serving as a member of the Residency Education Committee.
Eligibility »

U.S. applicants for UC Irvine’s ophthalmology residency program must meet the following requirements:

  • Have a medical degree from a U.S. or Canadian medical school approved by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) 
  • Be eligible for licensure in California by the second post-graduate year
  • Have successfully completed steps 1, 2 and 3 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE) before beginning the residency program
  • All applicants entering ophthalmology training programs must have taken a post-graduate clinical year (PGY-1) in a program accredited by either the ACGME or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The PGY-1 year must include training in which the resident has primary responsibility for patient care in fields such as internal medicine, neurology, pediatrics, surgery, family medicine or emergency medicine. At minimum, six months of this year must include broad experience in direct patient care.

Applicants who are not U.S. citizens must:


To request an evaluation status letter, contact:

Medical Board of California
1426 Howe Ave., Suite 54
Sacramento, CA 65825
916.263.2382

Application Process »

Applicants to UC Irvine’s ophthalmology residency program must register through the San Francisco Match Residency and Fellowship Matching Service.

The Central Application Service (CAS), which is an automatic part of the San Francisco Match registration, distributes applications to specified programs. Applications not received directly from CAS will not be considered.

UC Irvine’s Residency Selection Office must receive applications by September 1.

Requirements for the CAS application are:

  • Completed and signed CAS application forms
  • College transcripts
  • Medical school transcripts
  • USMLE scores
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • ECFMG certificate (for international graduates only)
  • Dean's letter (applies to graduates).

To apply, contact San Francisco Match.

Please send the following materials via email directly to the Program Coordinator:

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Photo
  • Additional letters (optional)
  • Postgraduate training authorization letter (foreign medical graduates only)
Selection Process »
No absolute selection criteria exists, however, the Residency Selection Committee considers:

  • Academic credentials (e.g. performance in medical school and clinical rotations, USMLE scores)
  • Evidence of academic potential
  • Evidence of commitment to ophthalmology
  • Personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation
Salary and Benefits »

The annual salary scale as of July 1, 2013 is:

  • Resident Physician II : $53,125
  • Resident Physician III: $55,218
  • Resident Physician IV: $57,590

Residents receive medical, dental and vision insurance, including coverage for their dependents (spouse/children) at no cost.

Long-term disability insurance is provided as is profession liability coverage for all activities that are approved components of the residency program.

Other benefits include:

  • Four weeks of vacation each academic year
  • Meal allocations while rotating at UC Irvine Medical Center
  • The American Academy of Ophthalmology basic and clinical science course book set
  • Department financial support to attend major scientific meetings when the resident is the first author on a paper or abstract
  • Use of the university campus recreational center

Frequently asked questions »

Meet our 2013-2014 residents »

Meet our 2014-2015 residents »

Meet our 2015-2016 residents

For further inquiries contact:

Doris Romo
Residency/Fellowship Coordinator
Department of Ophthalmology
850 Health Sciences Road
Irvine, CA 92697-4375
Fax: 949-824-4015
Email: djromo@uci.edu