Eye and Vision Science Toolkit

Get a jumpstart on your journey as a research scientist

Eye and Vision Science Toolkit


What do I need to study to become a vision scientist?

Visual science is an interdisciplinary field containing professionals from psychology, neuroscience, engineering, artificial intelligence, public health and much more. If you are interested in eye and vision science, here are some suggestions on how to get on track for a career in the field:

  • High School
    • Focus on courses such as chemistry, biology, math, anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, physiology and physics.
    • Participate in science opportunities such as science fairs, contests, mentorships or internships.
  • Undergraduate
  • Graduate
  • Medical School
    • Your first three years should focus on attaining acceptable preclinical grades, seeking mentors in ophthalmology, and engaging in extracurricular activities like research, outreach events, etc.
    • Check out resources for medical students recommended by the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology.
    • In your fourth year of medical school, you should apply to an Ophthalmology Residency Program.
    • You must complete a post-graduate clinical year (PGY-1) internship when you enter an ophthalmology training program.
  • PhD Program
    • In medical school, you can enter a PhD Program such as:
      • PhD in Population Health Science
    • You can also pursue a combined MD, PhD degree
Citation: https://www.aaojournal.org/article/S0161-6420(16)30132-4/fulltext. Grubbs, J. R., & Mian, S. I. (2016). Advising students interested in ophthalmology: A summary of the evidence. Ophthalmology, 123(7), 1406–1410. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ophtha.2016.04.016

If you would like more information about courses of study, or to get matched with a mentor advisor, please contact outreach@arvo.org

How do I become a researcher?

Research is essential in creating new treatments that save millions of lives. But how do you become a researcher? 

It is important to remember that not everyone's path to becoming an eye and vision researcher is the same. It can vary depending on your interests, the country you live in, and your life experiences. We asked some of our members to share how they got into the field. Click on their pictures below to learn about their journies. 



What are the qualities of a good researcher?
  • Curious
  • Hardworking
  • Passionate
  • Open-minded
  • Committed
  • Willing to make mistakes and learn from them
  • Patient 
  • Resilient

Look at what other researchers say are valuable assets

A day in the life of a vision researcher

Learn about researchers' typical day at their job or at school.

Daisy Y. Shu, PhD - postdoctoral research fellow at Schepens Eye Research Institute, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School (Boston, Mass.) * Post-video note: Shu is now an instructor in the Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology
Yuan Fang - research student at The University of Sydney (Australia)

Take a peek at what they get up to by following them on social media!






Eye and Vision Observances

Save the date for these crucial eye and vision observances! Use these dates to bring awareness to your family, friends, and school about the importance of eye and vision care as well as what researchers are working on.




Observance Months

Observance Days & Weeks


National Glaucoma Awareness Month



Age-related Macular Degeneration/Low Vision Awareness Month



Workplace Eye Wellness Month

World Glaucoma Week: March 6-12


Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month

Sjögren’s Awareness Month

International Guide Dog Day: April 26


Healthy Vision Month

Ultraviolet Awareness Month


Inherited Retinal Disease Genetic Testing Week: May 16-22

Global Accessibility Awareness Day: May 18


Cataract Awareness Month

Fireworks Eye Safety Month

Fireworks Eye Safety Week: Jun. 28 – July 4

Helen Keller DeafBlind Awareness Week: June 26-July 2


Dry Eye Awareness Month

Ultraviolet Safety Awareness Month

Fireworks Safety Week: Jun. 28 – July 4

Helen Keller DeafBlind Awareness Week: June 25-July 1

World Sjögren's Day: July 23


Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month



Sports Eye Safety Month

Healthy Aging Month

Inflammatory Eye Disease Awareness Week: Sept. 18-24


Contact Lens Safety Month

World Sight Day: Oct. 13


Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

Thyroid Eye Disease Awareness Week: Nov. 13-19

Geographic Atrophy Awareness Week: Nov. 13-17



Give the Gift of Sight Month

Safe Toys and Gifts Month

International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Dec. 3


Ready for more information?

Click on a resource below to find materials and opportunities to get you going. 

Internships and Student Programs
The National Eye Institute (NEI) offers training and support to the next generation of vision researchers and clinicians.
Visual Science Materials
Review materials that can teach you about the eye, the visual system and the vision science field