• Background on the Practicing Ophthalmologists Curriculum (POC)

    The content in the POC is comprised of the information deemed as the most relevant clinical information for a practicing ophthalmologist and is based on the MOC Content Outline developed by the ABO.

    The Academy has developed study tools based on the POC to assist doctors preparing to meet these MOC requirements.

    Organization of the POC
    The Practicing Ophthalmologists Curriculum comprises 10 practice emphasis areas (PEA), plus Core Ophthalmic Knowledge. The ABO has designated the following as practice emphasis areas:

    • Core Ophthalmic Knowledge
    • Comprehensive Ophthalmology
    • Cataract/Anterior Segment
    • Cornea/External Disease
    • Glaucoma
    • Neuro-Ophthalmology and Orbit
    • Oculoplastics and Orbit
    • Pediatric Ophthalmology/Strabismus
    • Refractive Management/Intervention
    • Retina/Vitreous
    • Uveitis


    Every diplomate sitting for the Demonstration of Ophthalmic Cognitive Knowledge (DOCK) examination will be tested on Core Ophthalmic Knowledge. Core Ophthalmic Knowledge is defined as the fundamental knowledge every practicing ophthalmologist must have whatever their area of practice.

    Each PEA is categorized into topics presented in an outline format, for easier reading and understanding of the relevant information points by the reader. These outlines are based on a standard clinical diagnosis and treatment approach found in the Academy’s Preferred Practice Patterns®.

    For each topic, there are Additional Resources that may contain journal citations and reference to textbooks. These resources are supplemental to the topic outline, and should not be necessary for MOC exam preparation purposes. Also listed are related Academy educational materials that might be helpful if the reader wishes to explore topics in greater detail.

    Creation of the POC
    The POC was developed by panels of practicing ophthalmologists in each of the ten practice emphasis areas (i.e., subspecialties). The panels reflect a diversity of background, training, practice type and geographic distribution, with nearly 100% of the panel members being time-limited certificate holders.

    The panels ranked clinical topics (diseases and procedures) in terms of clinical relevance to the subspecialist or comprehensive ophthalmologist. The panelists created content outlines for the topics deemed Most Relevant, based on what an ophthalmologist in a specific practice emphasis area needs to know to provide competent, quality eye care (i.e., directly related to patient care). These content outlines were reviewed by subspecialty societies.

    Jeffrey A. Nerad, MD, American Academy of Ophthalmology Secretary for Knowledge Base Development led the review for POC Version 4, published in October 2013. Version 4.0 of the POC, is valid for the DOCK exams for September 2014, 2015, and 2016.

    The POC includes text only and may be downloaded free-of-charge. Download the POC. Images and self-assessment questions, along with the POC, are included in the Practicing Ophthalmologists Learning System. Click to see a complete list of POC authors and contributors to the Practicing Ophthalmologists Learning System.

    Revision Process
    The POC is intended to be revised every three years. The POC panels will consider new evidence in the peer-reviewed literature, as well as input from the subspecialty societies. Updated versions will go through a review process similar to the original version.

    Version 4.0 can be changed only under the following circumstances:

    • A Level I (highest level of scientific evidence) randomized controlled trial indicates a major new therapeutic strategy
    • The FDA issues a drug/device warning
    • Industry issues a warning