banner Click here for the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute Home Page Click here for the UC Irvine Home Page Click here for the School of Medicine Home Page


The Gavin Herbert Eye Institute at UCI's School of Medicine offers an ophthalmology residency program that is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). We adhere to all common and ophthalmology-specific program requirements outlined by the ACGME.

Resident trainees receive intensive and wide-ranging clinical and surgical experiences as well as opportunities to conduct meaningful research. An excellent formal didactic curriculum supplements the clinical and surgical training. Graduates are thoroughly prepared to enter a comprehensive ophthalmology practice or top subspecialty fellowships.

Our residency program has a strong clinical and educational foundation across a broad spectrum of eye diseases and injuries. Resident trainees gain extensive in-depth clinical experiences at diverse teaching hospitals: UCI Medical Center in Orange and the VA Long Beach Healthcare System, as well as at the UCI Gavin Herbert Eye Institute in Irvine. The patient populations at these hospitals cover diverse demographic and socioeconomic groups.

Distinguished UC Irvine faculty members representing the full range of ophthalmology services train residents. These specialists are committed to the goals of teaching, patient care and applied research. 

Learn more about our ophthalmology residency program, please watch our video, and read more about it below:

Clinical Rotations »

First year-PGY 2

The first year of training begins with a two-week introduction to the ophthalmology program, as well as to the UCI School of Medicine's policies and procedures. First-year residents next begin clinical rotations at either the UCI Medical Center in Orange or the VA hospital in Long Beach. For the first month, the resident gains experience in the practice of direct skills, including patient examination, refraction and  ophthalmoscopy supervision. The senior residents and attending faculty members provide direct or indirect supervision and back-up.

By the second month, first-year residents perform minor surgical procedures, both office-based and in the operating room.  By the end of the first year, residents usually have gained intra-ocular surgical experience.

First-year residents also begin call duties, and are initially paired with the senior surgical resident through a "buddy call" system.  Residents gain experience managing a wide range of acute emergent ocular and orbital pathology at the UCI Medical Center and the VA Hospital in Long Beach.

Second year-PGY 3

Second-year residents have increased autonomy and assume leadership roles in running the clinics at the VA Hospital in Long Beach and at the UCI Medical Center.  Second-year residents also gain additional surgical experience. 

Third year-PGY 4

In the third year, the emphasis is on surgical mastery. Residents perform four to 15 primary cases per week. They also have increased autonomy in the clinics and are responsible for all pre- and post-operative management.

A chief resident selected from among the third-year class takes on additional administrative duties, including schedule preparation, surgical assignments and serving as a representative of residents at faculty meetings. 

Clinical and Basic Research »

Research is an important aspect of the ophthalmology residency program. Residents are required to complete at least one research project that is worthy of publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Submission of the completed paper is expected before graduation.

Each resident must submit a research proposal by the fall of the first year, outlining the aims, methods and budget for the project. First-year residents are expected to present this along with possible preliminary data at the annual resident's research day in May. For the remainder of the first year and into the second year of residency, more data are collected and analyzed. A paper or thesis is written under the supervision of a research mentor, with final results and conclusions presented at the May or June research day.

Third-year residents are expected present a completed research project that has been submitted—or is suitable for submission—to a peer-reviewed journal.

Department financial support is available to attend major scientific meetings when the resident is the first author on a paper or abstract. A request for financial assistance must be made in advance to the Residency Education Committee.

Didactic Education »

All residents are required to attend the Basic Sciences Lecture Series presented by residents and proctored by faculty members on Wednesday afternoons throughout the academic year. All subspecialty topics are covered in this 12-month series of lectures, which are followed by weekly lectures led by faculty in their area of expertise.

Residents are excused from academic clinics and other clinical duties for this protected didactic time.

Other regular academic sessions include:

  • Journal club (monthly) 
  • Grand rounds (formal case presentations once a month)
  • Ethics rounds with the department chair (monthly)
  • Morbidity and mortality rounds (monthly)
  • Ocular imaging conference (monthly)

Residents also are required to attend sponsored wet labs, lectures given by guest speakers and visiting professors, events sponsored by Continuing Medical Education and billing seminars, as well as financial and career workshops.

Surgical Training »

Surgical training increases gradually during the residency program, with an emphasis on gaining clinical proficiency and competence by the end of the second year.

A state-of-the-art wet lab with microscope is available. Residents must achieve competency in basic techniques in the wet lab prior to engaging in active human patient surgical care.

By the end of the third year, residents will have performed the approximate number of the following procedures:

  • Cataract - 210-300
  • Strabismus - 10-20
  • Corneal surgery - 10-20
  • Glaucoma filtering - 10-20
  • Glaucoma laser - 25-30
  • Retina/vitreous - 5-10
  • Other retinal - 100-150
  • Oculoplastics/Orbit - 85-125
  • Globe trauma - 5-10
Resident Advocacy »
Residents are a vital part of the UCI Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, School of Medicine and UCI Medical Center community. Residents attend monthly quality improvement meetings with the department chair and the program director to discuss system improvements.

The chief resident is the representative and advocate for all residents, responsible for attending monthly department faculty meetings and serving as a member of the Residency Education Committee.
Eligibility »

U.S. applicants for UCI’s ophthalmology residency program must meet the following requirements:

  • Have a medical degree from a U.S. or Canadian medical school approved by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) 
  • Be eligible for licensure in California by the second post-graduate year
  • Have successfully completed steps 1, 2 and 3 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE) before beginning the residency program
  • Beginning in 2021, ophthalmology residents will take their post-graduate clinical year (PGY-1) in a program accredited by the ACGME accredited Preliminary Internal Medicine program though UCI.  

Applicants who are not U.S. citizens must:

To request an evaluation status letter, contact:

Medical Board of California
1426 Howe Ave., Suite 54
Sacramento, CA 65825

Application Process »

Applicants to UCI’s ophthalmology residency program must register through the San Francisco Match Residency and Fellowship Matching Service.

The Central Application Service (CAS), which is an automatic part of the San Francisco Match registration, distributes applications to specified programs. Applications not received directly from CAS will not be considered.

UCI's Residency Selection Office must receive applications by September 15.

Requirements for the CAS application are:

  • Completed and signed CAS application forms
  • College transcripts
  • Medical school transcripts
  • USMLE scores
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • ECFMG certificate (for international graduates only)
  • Dean's letter (applies to graduates)

To apply, contact San Francisco Match.

Please send the following materials via email directly to the Program Coordinator:

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Photo
  • Additional letters (optional)
  • Postgraduate training authorization letter (foreign medical graduates only)
Selection Process »
The Residency Selection Committee considers:

  • Academic credentials (e.g. performance in medical school and clinical rotations, USMLE scores)
  • Evidence of academic and research potential
  • Evidence of commitment to ophthalmology
  • Evidence of service
  • Personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation
Benefits »

Salary and Benefits:
The annual slary scale as of July 1.2021 is:

  • Resident Physician II:   $59,130
  • Resident Physician III:  $61453
  • Resident Physician IV:  $63,879

Residents receive medical, dental and vision insurance, including coverage for their dependents (spouse/children) at no cost.

Long-term disability insurance is provided as is profession liability coverage for all activities that are approved components of the residency program.

Other benefits include:

  • Four weeks of vacation each academic year
  • Meal allocations while rotating at UC Irvine Medical Center
  • The American Academy of Ophthalmology basic and clinical science course book set
  • Department financial support to attend major scientific meetings when the resident is the first author on a paper or abstract
  • Access to the university campus recreational center
Program Graduates - Where Did They Go from Here? »

2018 Resident Graduates

Class of 2018 (from left to right):

James Tucker, MD, PhD:  Private Practice - Medical Vision Technology, Roseville, CA

Sarah Farukhi, MD:  UCSD Glaucoma Fellowship

Emily Charlson, MD, PhD:  Stanford University, Byers Eye Institute - Ophthalmic Plastic and Orbital Facial Reconstructive Surgery Fellowship


Frequently asked questions »

Meet our 2013-2014 residents »

Meet our 2014-2015 residents »

Meet our 2015-2016 residents »

Meet our 2017-18 residents »

Meet our 2019-20 residents »

Meet our 2020-21 residents »

For further inquiries contact:

Stephanie Lu, M.D.
Residency Program Director
Department of Ophthalmology


Pauline Chantakrivat
Residency/Fellowship Coordinator
Department of Ophthalmology
850 Health Sciences Road
Irvine, CA 92697-4375