The residency program within the Department of Ophthalmology at the UAB is the state’s only ophthalmology residency program.

As part of a top-tier medical community, the UAB Department of Ophthalmology 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, and nine operating suites. The hospital also houses a laser center and is outfitted to perform all types of laser procedures including refractive surgery.

As the 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.

The department's physician faculty members participating in the residency program represent all subspecialties within ophthalmology. In addition, there are research opportunities available for residents to work with the department's Ph.D. faculty members. A close, collaborative relationship exists between clinical and research faculty.

Residents rotate through clinics at the following hospitals, all located within five-block radius:

In total, the Department of Ophthalmology operates 7 outpatient clinic locations that service more than 58,000 outpatient visits per year. As residents progress, they are assigned more responsibility both clinically and surgically.

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

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

Grand rounds are held monthly. Specialty rounds are held on a weekly or bimonthly basis. Didactic lectures, based on the Basic and Clinical Science Course (American Academy of Ophthalmology), are presented three or four mornings each week. An Annual Clinical and Research Symposium is held each spring as a forum for residents to present their research project findings. Additionally, the department has an intranet on which all residency-related materials are posted, including educational videos, schedules, the resident handbook, and rotation guidelines.


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.


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.

In addition, UAB Department of Ophthalmology residents receive:

  • Educational Fund for the 3 years to be used for textbooks, conference fees, lenses, and travel to meetings. (Loupes are provided through separate expense account.)
  • Free covered parking connected to Callahan Eye 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

Christalyn Cooper, M.B.A.
Residency Coordinator
(205) 325-8507