UK medical schools are failing to comply with the
recommended curriculum for ophthalmology, set out by the International Council
of Ophthalmologists (ICO), suggests a survey published online in the British
Journal of Ophthalmology.
Amid concerns that the specialty was being squeezed out of
undergraduate education, the council urged medical schools to make it a core
subject and produced guidance to help them do this.
But a questionnaire sent to 32 UK medical schools, which
prompted 18 to complete returns, shows that while all include ophthalmology in
the curriculum, the amount of time devoted to the subject varies from two to 12
days. Only four of the schools taught all 13 of the recommended formal teaching
No school taught all 10 recommended clinical skills, and
only one school taught nine of them, the responses show.
While most of the respondents (83%) formally assessed
students' clinical skills at the end of the ophthalmic course, only seven (39%)
required a pass in ophthalmology for the student to pass or complete the whole
The results are similar to an Australasian survey, say the
authors, although there was more agreement among the Australasian medical
schools on the content of the ophthalmology course.
Their findings prompt the authors to ask whether there is
any point in devising "ideal" curriculum if they are so widely ignored, and to
wonder whether medical schools might not be wasting effort by developing their
own curricula without any reference to those already produced.
They also question whether medical students are being taught
the skills they need to deal with everyday eye problems that they are likely to
"This survey suggests that doctors in training receive
varied ophthalmic training, most of which does not meet the recommended ICO
standards, and some may receive insufficient training for their subsequent
careers," they conclude.