American Board of Ophthalmology - What You Need to Know

Posted January 15, 2020
Learn even more about the American Board of Ophthalmology

While it might seem quite obvious to say this about the eyes, good eyesight is a key factor in being able to process and interact with the world on a daily basis. In order to keep the eyes healthy and free from any eye conditions or diseases, patients visit an ophthalmologist or an optometrist. There are a few differences between the two types of doctors:

  • Ophthalmologists have to complete medical school as well as an internship or a residency. In addition, they sometimes have to do a fellowship as well. These medical professionals offer vision services (such as eye exams), medical and surgical eye care and plastic surgery to raise eyelids that are droopy or to smooth out wrinkles.
  • Optometrists handle primary health care for the eyes as well as regular vision care. These medical professionals have a doctor of optometry degree as well as four years in a professional program. In addition, some optometrists complete a specialty fellowship or additional clinical training. They can perform eye exams and vision tests to treat eye conditions such as being nearsighted or farsighted by prescribing contact lenses and eyeglasses. They can provide vision therapy and detect injuries or diseases that impact the eyes.

FYI…There are also opticians that are not eye doctors.  Instead, they fill the prescription for eyeglasses given to patients by an eye doctor.

American Board of Ophthalmology

According to their website, the American Board of Ophthalmology was founded in 1916. They serve as “an independent, nonprofit organization responsible for certifying ophthalmologists (eye physicians and surgeons) in the United States. The ABO was the first American Board established to certify medical specialists and is one of 24 specialty Boards recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties and the American Medical Association.”

As mentioned above, the ABO is one of 24 specialty boards recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). These boards work together to establish as well as maintain common standards for doctors to want to achieve board certification and/or maintain their current board certification status. Some of the most common eye procedures that ophthalmologists treat include:

American Board of Ophthalmology Certification

As mentioned above, the American Board of Ophthalmology was actually the first medical specialty board that was founded in the United States. In order to be certified by the ABO, ophthalmologists must sign a practice pledge that shows their intention to practice their medical specialty with “compassion, integrity and respect for human dignity”. They must also complete an evaluation process that includes two examinations. The first exam is a Written Qualifying Examination (WQE) and the second one is an Oral Examination.

Once the physicians meet all of the requirements for their initial certification, they become a diplomate and earn a certificate from the American Board of Ophthalmology that is valid for 10 years. All of the diplomates of the American Board of Ophthalmology must work to actively maintain their certification through “a lifelong learning and practice improvement process currently known as Maintenance of Certification in order to renew their certificate.”

American Board of Ophthalmology – Verify Certification

Patients that are interested in making sure their doctor of choice is certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology have a number of options. They include:

  • Search for the doctor on the ABO website by clicking on the Verify a Physician tab on the website
  • Contact the American Board of Ophthalmology at 610-664-1175
  • Request formal written verification of the certification status of a physician by submitting a written request to the ABO that includes the name of the physician and a check (for a fee determined by the American Board of Ophthalmology) that is payable to the ABO

It should be noted that the only information that will be shared by the American Board of Ophthalmology is whether or not a physician is certified or recertified by the ABO.

Maintaining certification is important for the patient as well as the doctor. The Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process is designed to assure the public, as well as the medical profession, that any physicians that are deemed to be board-certified continue their education activities as well as maintain current skills and information about their medical specialty. In addition, the public can be assured that the doctor is practicing “in a safe and contemporary manner”. The evaluation of the doctor is performed to assess the experience, knowledge and skills that are necessary to maintain the high standards of patient care in the field of ophthalmology.

Visit a Doctor Certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology

Once a patient makes the decision to undergo the desired changes to their eyes, they should visit a doctor that is board-certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology. Patients can be assured that the board-certified doctor is knowledgeable about the latest medical information and trends regarding surgical treatment of the eyes. They can also ask the doctor for “before and after” photos that show previous examples of their work on actual patients. The doctor will set realistic expectations for the final results as well as inform the patient about the best medical options to achieve their desired results.



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