Average Ophthalmologists Salary in South Africa (2024)

The average Ophthalmologist Salary in South Africa is R177,426 per month. An entry-level Ophthalmologist earns a salary range of R131,273, a Mid-career level earns about R175,585, and a senior/experienced level earns R230,667 per month.

Average Ophthalmologist Salary in South Africa

Job Title Approximate Monthly Salary (ZAR)
Entry-Level Ophthalmologist 131,273
Mid-Career Ophthalmologist 175,585
Experienced Ophthalmologist 230,667

Types of Ophthalmologists and Their Functions in South Africa

In South Africa, ophthalmologists play a crucial role in eye care, addressing a wide range of vision and ocular health issues. There are several types of ophthalmologists, each specializing in specific areas to provide comprehensive eye care. Here’s an overview of some common types and their functions:

1. General Ophthalmologists

General Ophthalmologists provide primary eye care, conduct routine eye exams, and diagnose and treat common eye conditions such as refractive errors, glaucoma, and cataracts.

2. Cornea and External Disease Specialists

These specialists focus on disorders related to the cornea, including corneal infections, injuries, and diseases. They may perform corneal transplants and manage conditions like keratoconus.

3. Retina Specialists

Retina Specialists specialize in diseases affecting the retina and vitreous, such as diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and retinal detachments. They often perform surgical procedures like vitrectomies.

4. Glaucoma Specialists

Glaucoma Specialists diagnose and manage glaucoma, a condition characterized by increased intraocular pressure that can lead to optic nerve damage. They may prescribe medications, perform laser therapy, or recommend surgical intervention.

5. Pediatric Ophthalmologists

Pediatric Ophthalmologists specialize in children’s eye health, diagnosing and treating visual issues in pediatric patients. They address conditions like strabismus (crossed eyes) and amblyopia (lazy eye).

6. Neuro-Ophthalmologists

These specialists deal with visual problems related to the nervous system, often working in collaboration with neurologists. Conditions may include optic nerve disorders, visual field defects, and double vision.

7. Oculoplastic Surgeons

Oculoplastic Surgeons specialize in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery of the eyelids, tear ducts, and face. They address issues like ptosis (droopy eyelids), eyelid tumours, and facial rejuvenation procedures.

8. Uveitis Specialists

Uveitis Specialists manage inflammation of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye. Uveitis specialists diagnose and treat conditions such as iritis, scleritis, and choroiditis.

9. Refractive Surgeons

Refractive Surgeons perform refractive surgery procedures such as LASIK to correct vision problems like myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism, reducing or eliminating the need for glasses or contact lenses.

10. Low Vision Specialists

Low Vision Specialists assist individuals with significant vision impairment by maximizing their remaining vision through the use of low-vision aids, adaptive devices, and rehabilitation services.

In South Africa, these ophthalmologists work collaboratively to provide comprehensive eye care, addressing both common and complex visual issues. Access to specialized care ensures that patients receive tailored treatments for various eye conditions, contributing to the overall well-being of the population.

Factors Affecting Ophthalmologists’ Salary in South Africa

The salary of ophthalmologists in South Africa is influenced by various factors, reflecting a complex interplay of professional, economic, and regional dynamics. Here’s a detailed exploration of these factors:

1. Experience and Expertise

Ophthalmologists with more years of experience and specialized expertise often command higher salaries. Surgeons with a proven track record in complex procedures or subspecialties may negotiate higher compensation.

2. Educational Qualifications

The level of education and training, including degrees, fellowships, and certifications, significantly impacts salary levels. Ophthalmologists with advanced qualifications or board certifications may receive higher compensation.

3. Geographical Location

Salaries can vary based on the geographical location within South Africa. Urban centres tend to offer higher salaries due to the higher cost of living and increased demand for specialized medical services.

4. Type of Practice

Ophthalmologists working in private practice often have the potential to earn more than those in public or government hospitals. Private practitioners may benefit from a fee-for-service model and a larger patient base.

5. Patient Demographics

The patient population served by an ophthalmologist can influence income. A practice serving a more affluent demographic may have a higher capacity to pay for premium eye care services, impacting the ophthalmologist’s earnings.

6. Healthcare System Dynamics

The structure of the healthcare system in South Africa, including public and private sectors, influences compensation. Public-sector ophthalmologists may have standardized salary scales, while those in the private sector have more room for negotiation.

7. Market Demand

Demand for ophthalmological services in a particular region or community affects the salary potential. Areas with a higher demand for eye care specialists may offer more competitive salaries to attract and retain skilled professionals.

8. Economic Conditions

The overall economic conditions of the country play a role. Economic stability, inflation rates, and healthcare budget allocations can impact the resources available for healthcare professionals, affecting salary levels.

9. Negotiation Skills

An ophthalmologist’s ability to negotiate their contract terms, including salary, benefits, and work hours, can significantly impact their overall compensation package. Negotiation skills are crucial in ensuring fair remuneration.

10. Workload and Hours

The intensity and volume of work, as well as on-call responsibilities, can influence earnings. Ophthalmologists with a heavier workload or extended working hours may negotiate for higher compensation.

How to Become an Ophthalmologist in South Africa

To become an ophthalmologist in South Africa, individuals typically follow a rigorous educational and training path. Here is a detailed guide on the steps to pursue a career as an ophthalmologist in South Africa:

1. Educational Background

– Obtain a high school diploma with a focus on science subjects, particularly biology and chemistry.

2. Undergraduate Education

– Pursue a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as Medicine or Biological Sciences. This typically takes three to four years.

3. Medical Degree

– Enroll in a medical school accredited by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).
– Complete a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degree, which usually takes six years.

4. Internship

– After completing medical school, undertake a two-year internship at a recognized health institution. This internship is a prerequisite for registration with the HPCSA.

5. Community Service

– Following the internship, engage in a year of compulsory community service in a designated health facility.

6. Postgraduate Training (Residency)

– Apply for admission to a residency program in ophthalmology. This specialized training typically lasts four years.
– During residency, gain practical experience in various aspects of ophthalmology, including diagnosing and treating eye conditions, performing surgeries, and managing patient care.

7. Examinations

.- Prepare for and pass the relevant examinations set by the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa (CMSA) and the HPCSA.

8. Registration

– Register with the HPCSA as a specialist in ophthalmology upon successful completion of the residency program and passing the required exams.

9. Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

– Engage in ongoing professional development activities to stay current with advancements in the field of ophthalmology.

10. Optional Fellowship

– Pursue optional fellowships to specialize further in a particular area of ophthalmology, such as cornea and external diseases, glaucoma, or pediatric ophthalmology.

11. Practice or Academic Career

– After completing all the necessary training and requirements, ophthalmologists can choose to work in private practice, join a hospital or clinic, or pursue an academic career in teaching and research.

12. Maintain Certification

– Periodically renew and maintain certification through continued education and participation in professional development activities.



The average Salary of an Ophthalmologist in South Africa is R177,426. The salary of ophthalmologists in South Africa is a multifaceted outcome shaped by a combination of individual qualifications, regional factors, economic conditions, and negotiation prowess. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for both ophthalmologists seeking fair compensation and healthcare organizations aiming to attract and retain top talent in the field.

Becoming an ophthalmologist in South Africa involves a lengthy and dedicated educational journey, combining general medical training with specialized ophthalmic expertise. The process requires commitment, perseverance, and a passion for improving eye health and vision care.