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Visual Sciences + Optics, Refraction, and Instruments (Part A & B)


A Foundation assessment is an interesting way of combining learning and testing yourself at the same time.

The ICO Foundation assessment is offered FREE to candidates who apply and pay for the Visual Sciences + Optics, Refraction, and Instruments (Part A & B) and the Visual Sciences only (Part A). Its a new assessment for ophthalmology trainees either prior to or during their first year of ophthalmology training and can be used as a tool in preparation for the VIsual Sciences examination. Candidates can access the assessment 24 hours a day, and can have the use of books or a computer to refine their answers up to a maximum of 20 minutes per four-option question: thus 28 hours is available if necessary for all the questions but there is no minimum time. Since a high pass level is expected, candidates will have to have read around the syllabus area before starting the assessment. Candidates may access the assessment as often as they wish but cannot return to a question once it has been started.

The assessment contains 84 multiple choice, Single Best Answer questions in English covering the syllabus. Each question has a statement, a scenario, or a scenario with a picture or video. There are four single best answer option. For each question, the candidate must also rate how certain they are on a scale of 1-3 of having given the correct answer. Candidates will mark as follows:

  • if they are not certain that their answer is correct.
  • if they are reasonably certain that their answer is correct.
  • if they are very certain that their answer is correct.

This will not have any impact on the scores awarded for knowledge but will provide candidates with feedback on their performance.

Candidates may apply directly to the ICO Exams office for the Foundation assessment at a cost of 50 Swiss Francs.


Level A

  • Community Medicine & Public Health
  • Epidemiology and Statistics
  • General Medicine
  • Genetics
  • International Medical Ethics & Good Practice

Level B

  • Intraocular inflammation and uveitis
  • Ophthalmic Pathology and Intraocular Tumours
  • Retina and Vitreous

Level C

  • Glaucoma
  • Lens and Cataract
  • Trauma, external disease and cornea

Level D

  • Anatomy of Eye, Orbit and Related Structure
  • Embryology and Development
  • Neuro-Anatomy
  • Pathology and Micro-biology
  • Principles of General Physiology
  • Vision, Pathology Biochemistry and Cell Biology

Level E

  • Basic design, construction and use of instruments
  • Commonly used tests
  • Optics and Refraction
  • Pharmacology

Level F

  • Neuro-Ophthalmology
  • Orbit, Eyelids and Lacrimal
  • Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus


Candidates will receive notification regarding whether they have passed the examinations.


English Only


Certificates will be produced automatically once the assessment is completed and free to download.

Online Examination

The ICO Assessment is delivered to you by ICO Examinations — ICO Examinations Office, Unit 2, Forest Industrial Park, Forest Road London IG6 3HL England. The International Council of Ophthalmology has its registered offices at: International Council of Ophthalmology, c/o Dr. David Jenny, VISCHER Anwälte und Notare, Schützengasse 1, 8001 Zurich, Switzerland

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