EL Ophthalmology & Visual Science Clinical Elective

This intensive 2 or 4-week elective consists of 10 half-day sessions per week. Students will observe in specialty clinics and ophthalmic surgery. More advanced students will be able to evaluate patients in a general ophthalmology clinic. Students are expected to participate in departmental conferences and review independent study material provided by the department. Subspecialty experience includes cornea and external eye disease, glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology, oculoplastics, retinal disease, and strabismus. By the end of the elective, students should be able to recognize the four most common causes of profound blindness and be able to identify vision threatening and non-vision threatening causes of a red eye. At completion of the rotation, the student should be able to do an external eye exam, have some familiarity with the slit lamp, and be able to use an ophthalmoscope to identify the optic nerve and be able to describe it. Students who do the 4-week elective are expected to do a presentation on a topic in ophthalmology to be determined at the end of the rotation. Evaluation is based on clinic performance, the case discussions, and the presentation.

Other teaching settings used: Yale Eye Center, Yale Health Center, WHVA Eye Clinic and the Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center

Length of Rotation: 2 or 4 weeks (maximum - 3 students)

Scheduling Restriction(s): Not offered 06/15/2015 – 07/10/2015, 11/02/2015 - 11/27/2015, 11/28/2015 - 01/03/2016 

Student's Class Level:  3rd, 4th, 5th year

Second year ophthalmology module or equivalent.  Non-Yale students need to send the department a transcript, CV, and letter of recommendation from a faculty member who knows them.  Non-US students need to send the department the results of Step 1 of the USMLE and a letter of recommendation from a faculty member at their institution.   

Accept Visiting Students: yes

Learning Objectives:


  1. History skills.  By the end of the rotation, students will be expected to gather the important information that is needed for the ophthalmology history and complete a history in the medical record for at least 20 patients: a. The student should name all the routine questions that are involved in taking a history of the visual system and why they are being asked.
  2. Physical examination skills. By the end of the rotation, students will be expected to complete a pertinent physical examination for the evaluation the visual system on at least 10 patients. The student should demonstrate the ability to perform this pertinent physical examination while being observed by at least one attending or resident: a. The student should know how to differentiate normal from abnormal findings on ophthalmoscopy, and b. The student should be able to explain each part of the physical examination of the visual system, why it is being performed and what abnormalities are being sought.
  3. Knowledge/diagnostic and treatment skills: By the end of the rotation, students will be expected to know about common ophthalmic conditions, for example: a. Know the 3 most likely causes of sudden vision loss, eye pain, and the red eye and the mechanism for each; b. Name at least 3 laboratory tests to evaluate each of these conditions; and c. Describe the first line therapy for each of these conditions.
  4. Procedural skills. By the end of the rotation, students will be expected to perform slit lamp examination  on at least 10 patients: a. The student should know the key indications for the procedure, and b. The student should be observed and get feedback on the performance of the procedure on at least one occasion.
  5. Attitude:  By the end of the rotation, students will be expected to demonstrate professional responsibility in working as a team member with other members of the opthalmology care team, patients and families: a. The student should exhibit sensitivity to the particular psychosocial issues faced by vision impaired patients and their families, and b. The student should exhibit honesty, accuracy and integrity in all interactions with patients, families, colleagues and others.
  6. Career/context:  By the end of the rotation, students will be expected to know the training/career pathway for ophthalmology: a. Know 3 aspects of career satisfaction in this specialty, and b. Know key roles that the specialty plays in the health care system.