The American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO) is an independent, non-profit organization responsible for certifying ophthalmologists (eye physicians and surgeons) in the United States of America. Founded in 1916, the ABO was the first American Board established to certify medical specialists.
The ABO is the founding member of the American Board of Medical Specialties. Originally, a combined board of Ophthalmology & Otolaryngology, the specialties split into two board backed specialties in the 1960s.
Certification by the American Board of Ophthalmology is a voluntary process that involves a written and an oral examination. A candidate who passes both the written qualifying and oral examinations becomes a Board Certified Diplomate of the American Board of Ophthalmology.
ABO was the first American Board established to certify medical specialists and is one of 24 specialty Boards recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and the American Medical Association (AMA).
Until ophthalmologists led the call for higher standards in the practice of medicine, patients had no way of knowing if their specialists received critical training in that specialty area of medicine. The founders of the ABO recognized that providing quality eye care was only half the battle — they needed to create a way for patients to be able to recognize it.
Today, the ABO certifies ophthalmologists who have completed an accredited ophthalmic residency training program and demonstrated the required level of knowledge, skills, and experience in ophthalmology. Our Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program for board certified diplomates promotes lifelong learning and quality improvement through a series of accredited educational courses, rigorous knowledge examinations, and hands-on activities that require practice performance measurement.
We publish certification and Maintenance of Certification participation information to help patients make more informed decisions when choosing a doctor. Diplomates of the American Board of Ophthalmology are also listed in The Official ABMS Directory of Board Certified Medical Specialists, published by Marquis Who’s Who. This is the authorized publication of the 24 recognized specialty Boards that certify physicians in medical and surgical specialties.
While there is a lot we do in the name of elevating the quality of ophthalmic care, some things we do not do include: dispensing medical advice; recommending a particular ophthalmologist over another ophthalmologist; setting requirements for membership to hospital staffs; or defining the scope of ophthalmic practice. The certificate of the ABO does not confer any academic degree, legal qualifications, privilege, or license to practice ophthalmology.
The work of the Board is overseen by 19 Board Directors; 17 of whom are clinicians and academicians with specific ophthalmologic skills and a broad geographic distribution. Two Public Directors represent the patient voice. Board Directors are chosen for a four-year term and one additional four-year term is permitted.
To develop its content and administer its examinations, the board relies on volunteers from within the profession of ophthalmology who give of their time and expertise to serve as Examiners, item writers, and content development panelists.