Introduction to Ophthalmic Surgery Course – is it worth it?

Dr. Mohammad Ihsan Fazal (BMBS, BSc)

Foundation Year Two Doctor, Watford General Hospital, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, UK


The Introduction to Ophthalmic Surgery course (IOS) is a very popular 1-day course delivered by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists in London. The course aims to introduce clinicians to some of the microsurgical techniques which form the foundations of commonly performed ophthalmic procedures such as strabismus, cataract, corneal and oculoplastic surgery. To find out more and book see the course website.

Who is it for?

The course is aimed at anyone considering a career in ophthalmology including medical students, foundation doctors and overseas doctors. When I attended in November 2020 the majority of delegates were F2 doctors however there was a mix including a few GP trainees and even a Vet!

When did you do it?

I attended the course during November 2020. Covid-19 restrictions were in place limiting the number of attendees in the interest of social distancing.

Why did you do it?

Although I was fortunate enough to have had an ophthalmology job in my F2, I wanted to increase my exposure to the actual practical element of microsurgery. I wanted to test myself and see if I had a ‘knack’ for the basics or whether the ‘fiddliness‘ would be a barrier to overcome. Secondly, it was a great opportunity to pick the brains of the senior ophthalmologist facilitators and get a great insight into their respective sub-specialties.

What did it involve?

The 1-day course had minimal didactic teaching and was almost entirely practical which was great. There was an introduction covering the instruments, sutures and knot including a demonstration of the first practical session and then the first of 3 sessions began. The first practical session focused on eyelid margin closure common in oculoplastics. This session involved a suture model simulating the layers of the eyelid with an incision that needs to be aligned and closed.

The second session began with a short demonstration of strabismus repair with the rest of the time allowing delegates to practice severing and relocating the extraocular muscles of a synthetic eye model. The third session introduced the operating microscope and involved making an incision in a model cornea and then repairing it with buried sutures – personally, this was my favourite and I found working under the microscope to be an engrossing experience. Alongside these 3 sessions, delegates were inducted on the EyeSi simulator which was good fun and meant that a delegate can then book a time slot to practice in the future if they so wish.

How much did it cost?

In 2020 the 1-day course cost £330 including lunch and refreshments (catering for all dietary requirements!). The price also included access to Ophthalmology e-learning modules.

Was it worth it?

Definitely. You get almost 1-to-1 supervision from experienced ophthalmologists and get tailored advice on how to improve in these fundamental skills. It was a great opportunity to learn and the EyeSi induction means that it is less hassle to book training time in the future.

Top tips?

Space is extremely limited, especially during the restrictions of Covid-19 so booking early is a must. Additionally, ensure that you complete the e-learning modules as it covers most of the pre-requisite knowledge. Without it you will feel a bit lost during the session as it really is 90% practical.

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