Ophthalmology Summer School notes

This is a quick follow-up post after the talk I gave on eye pathology earlier today. I hope those who attended found it helpful. If you’d like to give me feedback – either as a comment below or by using the contact form, I’d welcome suggestions for next year’s course. My personal feeling is that you found the case discussions more useful than “How the lab works” – but do let me know!


Someone asked about recommended textbooks for the Part 1 FRCOphth examination. I don’t know whether the RCOphth have an official list, but here are a couple of books you might find useful:

Lee’s Ophthalmic Histopathology by Roberts and Thum

Eye Pathology: An Atlas and Text by Eagle

Both books include advice on how to handle specimens in the laboratory. Although you won’t do this as a clinical ophthalmologist, it’s more comprehensive guide to the process than the brief talk I gave.The “Look Inside” for the Kindle version of Roberts and Thum includes all the laboratory technical aspects.

Here is the current RCOphth guidance as to what tissue should be submitted for histological examination.

Another (free) resource you might find useful is the Community Eye Health Journal. It’s a quarterly ophthalmology publication. The intended readership is eye care practitioners in low and middle-income countries, but the themed issues give a useful overview for everyone.


A couple of people were also curious about the career pathway for ophthalmic pathology, so here’s a brief overview.

Within the UK, Ophthalmic Pathology is an RCPath-recognised subspecialty. However, it doesn’t have a specialist examination. Ophthalmic pathologists undergo training in (general) Histopathology and sit the Histopathology FRCPath examination before specialising. There are only six of us in England, and we do not all have a full-time commitment to eye pathology. There is no requirement for clinical ophthalmology experience although most of us have worked as ophthalmologists previously.

In other countries, ophthalmic pathology specimens might be examined by ophthalmologists rather than histopathologists, but in the UK there is no provision for this. This is in contrast to UK dermatologists, some of whom report skin biopsies.

I hope this information is helpful. If you have further questions, feel free to leave a comment below. And enjoy the rest of the Summer School!

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