Ophthalmology Residency Programs 

206-Third-year-studentsThe ophthalmology residency at the University of Colorado focuses on the development of outstanding clinical and surgical skills. The experience of the residents is both broad and deep, with extensive exposure to the evaluation and management of ophthalmic diseases, common and rare.

The residents' growth as ophthalmologists is assisted by a faculty dedicated to resident education, cutting-edge research programs that keep them abreast of the latest developments, didactic teaching sessions that build a solid fund of knowledge, and busy clinic settings that balance autonomy and oversight so that residents can develop solid decision-making skills. At the end of the 3-year program residents will have a foundation that will allow them to become highly competent leaders in ophthalmology, whether in private practice or academics.

Throughout the three years of residency, the residents attend basic science lectures and journal clubs given by faculty to enhance their fund of knowledge and their ability to review the literature critically. Weekly clinical conferences give them experience presenting cases as well as exposure to a variety of approaches in disease management. Organized wet labs guided by faculty allow them to hone their surgical skills prior to working on live patients.

As the only academic medical center for hundreds of miles, our residents have the advantage of working at a range of unshared university-affiliated hospitals. These include a tertiary care Veterans Administration Hospital, Denver Health Medical Center (a level 1 trauma center), Children’s Hospital Colorado (ranked #5 Children’s Hospital by U.S. News and World Report), and the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Institute at the University of Colorado. The high surgical volume and balanced clinical experience during the 3 years at these facilities is second to none. We are proud of our training program and our residents, and we constantly strive to maintain an environment that allows them to develop into skilled ophthalmologists.

Residency Rotations

Each of the 3 years of residency is divided into five rotations each lasting approximately ten weeks. Details for each year are given below.
The First Year

The first year focuses on attaining the basic clinical skills and fund of knowledge needed to properly evaluate and manage the majority of ophthalmic pathology encountered. Lectures, clinical conferences and wet lab training combine with extensive guided clinical experience to achieve this goal. Three rotations are spent at the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Institute (RMLEI) and one rotations is spent at both the VA and Denver Health. A limited amount of time is also spent at Children’s Hospital Colorado so first year residents learn to examine children.

The Second Year

Having developed their clinical skills in the first year, second year residents begin a year that includes a high volume of procedures in the fields of strabismus, oculoplastics, and retina. Additionally they have an opportunity to perform their first cataract procedures as the primary surgeon. Second year residents have rotations at Children’s Hospital Colorado, Denver Health Medical Center, and at RMLEI with a focus on oculoplastics, retina, and ophthalmic research.
The Third Year
The third year is an intense year of surgery, focusing mainly on cataract surgery. In addition to at least 150 cataract surgeries as the primary surgeon, the senior resident is a consultant for the junior residents, both in the clinics and on call. They have a high level of responsibility in both the care of patients and the organization of their surgery schedule. Though functioning with greater independence, they still have an attending available at all times for questions and surgical supervision. As the year progresses, the residents’ surgical skills and decision-making mature so that upon completion of residency they should feel comfortable addressing any ophthalmologic situation that arises.

Application Eligibility, Process and Deadline 

Five first-year residents begin training each July. Appointments to the residency program are made one and one-half years in advance through the Ophthalmology Residency Matching Program at SFMatch.

All applicants must meet the following requirements by the residency appointment date: 

  • Graduation from a Liaison Committee for Medical Education (LCME)-accredited medical school in the United States or Canada
  • Possession or eligibility for a Colorado Medical License
  • Satisfactory completion of a PGY1 internship year in an accredited program in the United States or Canada
  • Satisfactory completion of the USMLE, Part 3

In exceptional circumstances, graduates of foreign medical schools may be considered for the residency if they are eligible to obtain a physician license from the Colorado Medical Board.

The residency application process is managed through SF Match, where application requirements and deadlines are listed. For questions unanswered on the SF Match website, you may contact our Residency Coordinator.


The University of Colorado Ophthalmology Residency Program is accredited by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

Learn more about our Faculty, Affiliated Institutions and Residency Manual 2010