Ophthalmology Residency Program 

The 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. 

After the joint intern year in partnership with the Department of Internal Medicine, residents complete three years of ophthalmology training. Throughout the three years of ophthalmology 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 that see patients from the entire state of Colorado, as well as surrounding states such as Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota. These include a tertiary care Veterans Administration Hospital, Denver Health Medical Center (Level 1 trauma center), Children’s Hospital Colorado, and the Sue Anschutz-Rodgers Eye Center at the University of Colorado (Level 1 trauma center). The high surgical volume and balanced clinical experience at these facilities allows for an exceptional learning environment. 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

Preliminary Medicine Year (PGY-1)

All of our incoming ophthalmology residents spend their first year as preliminary internal medicine interns. In addition to required rotations on the internal medicine wards, ophthalmology interns spend three rotations on ophthalmology to start building the foundation for their future residency. These ophthalmology rotations include one month each of:

  • Working alongside our optometrists and low-vision specialists (becoming familiar with refraction, using the slit lamp, and performing a basic eye exam in clinic).
  • Inpatient consults (working alongside the consult resident seeing patients in the emergency department and inpatient hospital).
  • Introduction to the operating room including pre- and post-operative care as well as working in our dedicated ophthalmology operating rooms to become familiar with surgical tools and equipment 

Each of the three years of ophthalmology residency is divided into six rotations each lasting approximately eight weeks. Details for each year are given below. 

The First Year (PGY-2)

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. First year rotations include:

  • Glaucoma (University of Colorado)
  • Neuro-Ophthalmology (University of Colorado)
  • Pediatrics, subspecialty potpourri, and night float (split between University of Colorado and Children’s Hospital of Colorado)
  • VA Clinic (Veteran’s Affairs Hospital)
  • Denver Health Clinic (Denver Health)

The Second Year (PGY-3)

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 perform their first cataract procedures as primary surgeon. Second year rotations include:

  • Pediatrics (Children’s Hospital of Colorado)
  • Oculoplastics (University of Colorado)
  • Retina (University of Colorado)
  • Inpatient Consults and Ocular Pathology (University of Colorado)
  • VA Clinic and OR (Veteran’s Affairs Hospital)
  • Denver Health Clinic and OR (Denver Health)

The Third Year  (PGY-4)

The third year is an intense year of surgery, focusing mainly on cataract surgery, although our residents get experience in a variety of cornea, glaucoma, oculoplastics, and retina procedures as well. Our cataract surgery numbers (as primary surgeon) are well above the national average and far exceed the minimum surgical requirements established by the ACGME. The senior resident also serves as 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, senior residents 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. Third year rotations include:

  • Cornea, Cataract, and Refractive Surgery (University of Colorado)
  • Subspecialty Refresher (University of Colorado)
  • VA Clinic and OR (Veteran’s Affairs Hospital) – 2 blocks
  • Denver Health Clinic and OR (Denver Health) – 2 blocks

Application Eligibility, Process and Deadline 

Six first-year residents begin training each July. Appointments to the residency program are made through the Ophthalmology Residency Matching Program via the SFMatch. Our joint intern year in partnership with the Department of Internal Medicine is required and instructions for matching into that program through ERAS/NRMP is distributed to applicants that match to our ophthalmology program.

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 of or eligibility for a Colorado Medical License
  • Satisfactory completion of a PGY1 internship year in an accredited program in the United States or Canada (now completed as part of the University of Colorado Internal Medicine training program, as described above)
  • Satisfactory completion of the USMLE, Part 3
  • 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).