Salary of an eye surgeon

An eye surgeon, also known as an ophthalmologist, is a physician who also diagnoses and treats eye diseases and injuries. Ophthalmologists may also examine eyes and prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, like an optometrist. There are a number of factors that influence an eye surgeon's potential earnings, including experience, employer type and location.

Salary and Benefits

The total pay of an eye surgeon ranges from £82,912 and £154,138, according to PayScale November 2010 data. Bonus and profit-sharing can account for up to 30 per cent of total pay, ranging from £11,019 to £49,022. Health benefits are common among eye surgeons — only 15 per cent have no benefits.


Earnings increase rapidly in the early years of an eye surgeon’s career, but they peak rather quickly. An entry-level eye surgeon, with less than one year of experience, earns between £32,500 and £97,500, according to PayScale November 2010 data. With one to four years’ experience, income increases between 15 per cent and 100 per cent, to a range of £66,812 to £114,274. Another increase of 20 per cent to 50 per cent occurs for eye surgeons with five to nine years’ experience: At this point, they reach their peak earnings, which are between £78,328 and £165,079. With 10 to 19 years’ experience, eye surgeons can earn between £95,806 and £159,678. Income for individuals with 20 years or more of experience stabilises between the range of £114,892 and £163,400.

Employer Type

Eye surgeons who are self-employed earn the most income, ranging from £105,387 to £173,329, according to PayScale November 2010 data. Individuals working in a private practice or firm earn significantly less, between £89,660 and £139,785. Eye surgeons working for state or local government earn between £57,484 and £130,971. Hospitals are one of the lowest-paying employers, ranging from £55,250 to £101,150. Ophthalmologists working in colleges or universities are at the lowest end of the pay scale, earning between £31,942 and £106,505.


Location can account for up to a 100 per cent difference in earnings among eye surgeons. Earnings for eye surgeons are highest in California, ranging from £80,404 to £200,439, based on PayScale November 2010 data. Eye surgeons in Illinois are among the lowest paid, earning between £75,824 and £92,580. Earnings for eye surgeons in New York and Ohio are approximately equal at £130,000 on the high end. However, there's a marked difference on the low end, at £93,725 in New York and £55,548 in Ohio.


Surprisingly, gender plays no role in a career that's dominated by men. Seventy-one per cent of all eye surgeons are male, according to November 2010 PayScale data. Male eye surgeons earn between £83,663 and £131,546. Their female counterparts earn a comparable amount, between £84,206 and £130,000.

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About the Author

Stephen Jeske began writing professionally in 2010 for various websites. He is a former partner in a 49-year-old family business and has been a private investor for over three decades. Jeske holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Specialized Honors Music from York University.

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