Residency Program

The UAB Department of Ophthalmology offers Alabama’s only ophthalmology residency program. As part of a large academic medical community, this program provides residents robust training opportunities.

The department is based in the UAB Callahan Eye Hospital. A modern, superbly equipped facility, Callahan Eye Hospital has a 12-bed inpatient ward, a busy outpatient surgery center, a 24-hour eye emergency room, ophthalmic laser center, and nine operating suites.

As a Level 1 Ocular Trauma Center with a 24/7 eye emergency department, the UAB Callahan Eye Hospital provides Department of Ophthalmology residents a unique and clinically valuable training experience. The Callahan Eye Hospital emergency room sees more than 5,000 visits per year, of which more than 500 are eye trauma. Residents have the opportunity to diagnose and treat numerous ophthalmologic conditions.

Faculty members from all subspecialties within ophthalmology participate in resident training. Specialty clinics in the following areas provide concentrated areas of study:

  • Corneal disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Retina and vitreous diseases
  • Uveitis and ocular inflammatory diseases
  • Pediatrics and strabismus
  • Oculoplastic surgery
  • Contact lenses
  • Low vision rehabilitation

In total, the Department of Ophthalmology operates 7 outpatient clinic locations that service more than 58,000 outpatient visits per year. In addition to attending clinics, residents rotate through the following hospital clinics, all located within a five-block radius::


Training is focused on learning the basics of the eye examination and the diagnosis and treatment of common eye diseases (including medical and laser treatments). Exposure to subspecialty eye care is provided through regular rounds at each of the teaching clinics as well as didactics. As skills and knowledge increase over the course of the year, progressively more autonomy and responsibility is provided.

Five 10-week rotations, all based in the UAB Callahan Eye Hospital, are divided between the Veterans Affairs Eye Clinic (two rotations) and the Lions Eye Clinic (three rotations). Full-time attending staff and third-year residents are present in each clinic. During the day, a first-year resident on the Lions Eye Clinic rotation covers the Callahan Eye Hospital emergency room (with appropriate backup and supervision).

Primary call is in house for first-year residents. Residents cover the Callahan Eye Hospital emergency room and provide consultation services to all UAB affiliated institutions, including the emergency rooms of UAB Hospital (the only Level 1 Trauma Center in the state), Children's Hospital, Cooper Green Mercy Health Services, VA Hospital, and UAB Highlands Medical Center. The resident on call also covers inpatient consultation services at those locations. Call averages to every fifth night. Residents create the call schedule with the assistance of the Chief Resident.

A major advantage of the UAB system is the close proximity of all facilities to the Callahan Eye Hospital. All except UAB Highlands are located within a contiguous medical campus within a five-block radius. UAB Highlands is located less than one mile from the UAB campus.

The second year of residency is composed of ten 5-week rotations through all ophthalmic subspecialties with an optional Academic Path offering a 5-week block of protected research time. Rotations include exposure to cornea, retina, glaucoma, oculoplastics, pediatrics, uveitis, low vision, neuro-ophthalmology and the University Consult Service.

Second-year residents take backup call at home, coming in as needed for complex cases, certain surgical decisions, and if the workload demands additional help for the first-year resident. (Except for during the first month of the academic year when second-year residents take call in house with the new first-year residents for training purposes.)

All second-year residents attend the Wills Eye Annual Ophthalmology Review Course in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the second half of the academic year. Second-year residents are introduced to cataract surgery in preparation for their third year.

The third year of residency is also divided into ten 5-week rotations—four at Cooper Green Mercy Health Services, four at the VA Hospital, and two at the Lions Eye Clinic.

Surgical experience is primarily gained during this year. The resident serves as primary surgeon for patients from the various clinics with attending staffing from the faculty and community.

Third-year call is in backup to the first- and second-year call and consists primarily of surgical responsibilities.
Third year residents attend the Alcon Course in Fort Worth, Texas.

Conferences and Meetings

Grand rounds, imaging conference, neuro-ophthalmology conference, and Chairman’s rounds are held monthly. Specialty rounds are held regularly at all resident clinics. Didactic sessions are presented three mornings each week. An Annual Clinical and Research Symposium is held each spring as a forum for residents to present their research project findings. Residents attend the American Academy of Ophthalmology Annual Meeting once during either the second or third year of training. Additional meeting attendance is based on research presentation acceptance, which is encouraged.


UAB Ophthalmology is an active research department with programs in basic and clinical sciences. Residents are required to participate in research during their training via one of two tracks, Academic or Clinical. Residents choose a track during their first year. The Clinical track is intended for those who desire to focus on the clinical practice of ophthalmology with little research activity. The Academic track is intended for those residents who desire an academic career with significant involvement in not only clinical patient care but also substantive research. Academic track residents are provided a 5 week block of protected research time (didactic, conference, and call responsibilities remain intact.) All research faculty are available to residents for mentorship and research project guidance.

Applying to Our Program

The UAB Ophthalmology Residency is a fully accredited three-year training program. Five residents are accepted each year exclusively through the San Francisco Matching Program.

Criteria for Consideration of Application
  • Graduation from medical school within 5 years of date of application (exceptions for applicants who are delayed beyond 5 years in applying due to US military service will be considered on an individual basis)
  • Successful completion of USMLE Step I with a competitive score
  • Final submission of application via San Francisco Match by posted deadline
For International Graduates
  • We sponsor an H1-B and a J-1 visa
  • You must hold an Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) certificate
  • Hands on clinical experience in the United States is an absolute requirement. Observerships, shadowing, and research (even clinical research) do not meet this requirement. The clinical experience must be substantial and formal (i.e. part of an established program of training) and include, at a minimum, direct responsibility for patient care. A letter from the physician supervisor of this experience must be included with the central application and must detail the exact nature of the clinical experience and level of responsibility of the trainee during the experience.
2016 Applicants (for a residency start in 2018)

Applications will be reviewed following the submission deadline, which is September 15, 2016. Selected applicants will be invited for onsite interviews at UAB. All of our on-site interviews will be held on November 18, 2016. Submission of an application does not guarantee the applicant an interview. Due to the competitive nature of the program, many highly qualified applicants may not be extended an invitation due to limitations in the number of applicants that can be interviewed. Only individuals interviewed in person will be considered for matching in the program.

A PGY-1 internship in an ACGME accredited program in the United States must be completed prior to beginning ophthalmology training. It is the responsibility of the matched applicant to obtain the PGY-1 training.


UAB Ophthalmology Residents receive the same benefits as all other UAB residents. Additional information can be found on the SOM Resident Physician Salary & Benefits page. UAB Department of Ophthalmology residents receive free covered parking connected to Callahan Eye Hospital and are supported by an educational fund underwritten by the hospital. 


For inquiries about Residency Training in the UAB Department of Ophthalmology, contact:

Russell W. Read, M.D., Ph.D.
Director of Residency Program
Department of Ophthalmology
University of Alabama at Birmingham
700 South 18th Street, Suite 601
Birmingham, Alabama 35294-0009

Harriett E. Holmes
Residency Coordinator 
(205) 325-8507