Cataract and Refractive Surgery

Cataract and refractive surgery are ever-expanding areas within the field of ophthalmology, encompassing both laser and non-laser vision correction. This has traditionally been performed by surgeons in large private clinics, but in recent years has become accepted as part of mainstream ophthalmic care. Laser eye surgery is now the most frequently performed eye operation in Australia.

The Cataract and Refractive Surgery program aims to equip students with knowledge of cataract and refractive surgery theory and practice, using distance learning complemented by a clinical placement in an accredited cataract and refractive surgical centre and time spent in the wet lab at Sydney Eye Hospital. The program is offered jointly by the University of Sydney and the University of Auckland, and is the first of its kind in any country. The lecturers include internationally recognised cataract and refractive surgeons.

Professor Sutton talking about refractive surgery

03:28 minutes Download video (mp4, 10.50 Mb)

Articulation Pathways

There are two points at which students may elect to graduate:

  1. Upon successful completion of 36 credit points of coursework students may graduate with a Graduate Diploma in Cataract and Refractive Surgery.
  2. Upon successful completion of a total of 48 credit points of coursework students graduate with a Master of Medicine (Cataract and Refractive Surgery).

Sydney Medical School Handbook:

Graduate Diploma in Cataract and Refractive Surgery and Master of Medicine (Cataract and Refractive Surgery)

The purpose of this course is to prepare ophthalmologists for the appropriate selection of candidates for cataract and refractive surgery, understand the surgical techniques involved and deal with complications.

This course aims to provide a practical and theoretical qualification for the practise of cataract and refractive surgery. It is open to local and international students who wish to gain a comprehensive and balanced perspective in the evolving field of cataract and refractive eye surgery. The course covers basic sciences, evidence based medicine, optics and surgery as it applies to cataract and refractive surgery to equip postgraduate students with the foundations for lifelong clinical development. The coursework element of the curriculum is taught online and students are also expected to undertake clinical attachments and wet labs which can be done either in the student’s home town or in Sydney. Students undertaking the masters programme must also complete a supervised research project. Internationally respected lecturers from Australia and New Zealand are involved in the teaching of this course.

The Master of Medicine is usually completed in 1.5 years of full time study or 2.5 years of part time study assuming the standard progression of units of study as specified by the discipline is undertaken. Each candidate must achieve a total of 48 credit points to successfully complete the Master of Medicine.

Units of Study

All students must complete four online units of study:

OPSC5001 Ophthalmic Anatomy (9 credit points)
OPSC5003 Ophthalmic Optics (9 credit points)
OPSC5018 Cataract & Refractive Surgery 1 (6 credit points)
OPSC5019 Cataract & Refractice Surgery 2 (6 credit points)


OPSC5020 Practical Cataract & Refractive Surgery (9 credit points)

Students undertaking the Master of Medicine must also complete a Dissertation. This can be done over one semester by enrolling in:

OPSC5025 Dissertation C (12 credit points)

Or in two semesters by enrolling in:

OPSC5023 Dissertation A (6 credit points)
OPSC5024 Dissertation B (6 credit points)

Entry requirements

Admission to the Graduate Diploma in Cataract and Refractive Surgery and the Master of Medicine (Cataract and Refractive Surgery) requires:

a. a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery of the University of Sydney or equivalent qualification;

b. appropriate medical indemnity; and

c. completion of the requirements of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists, and be eligible to undertake a subspecialty fellowship in the final year of accredited training;


applicants must be registered to practice ophthalmology in their state, territory or country.

Please note: overseas-trained specialists who plan to practice in Australia will require documentation from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists showing that they have met the College guidelines for specialist practice in Australia. These courses do not qualify you to practice as an ophthalmologist in Australia or New Zealand.

Further information and applications

Graduate diploma:

Master of Medicine: