Department of Ophthalmology and Otorhinolaryngology

The Department of Ophthalmology and Otorhinolaryngology at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Helsinki comprises a single administrative unit. The Department is responsible for basic, specialist, continuing and postgraduate education (including postgraduate research education) in clinical medicine, as well as the promotion of scientific research and community relations in the field.

The Department conducts its operations at the relevant specialist departments of the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS). The ophthalmology unit operates at the Meilahti campus Department of Eye Diseases, the otorhinolaryngology unit at the Surgical Hospital.

The Department of Ophthalmology and Otorhinolaryngology is responsible for basic education in ophthalmology and otorhinolaryngology organised by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Helsinki. The ophthalmology course is organised once a year for students in their fourth year of studies. The otorhinolaryngology course is organised for students in their fifth year of studies in four three-week periods.


The propaedeutic studies provide students with the ability to examine the eye with courses on internal medicine and neurology. The ophthalmology course begins with a propaedeutic multiple choice examination measuring familiarity with the development, structure and functions of the eye. Passing the examination is a requirement for participating in the group teaching of ophthalmology.

The ophthalmology course teaches the relation between ocular findings and systemic diseases, the most common ocular disorders, the principles of low-vision rehabilitation and, particularly, the screening and treatment of ocular disorders under the purview of primary health care. Measuring visual acuity and refracting power, examining fields of vision and colour perception, inspecting the eye externally, everting the eyelid, evaluating refracting media and the fundus of the eye with an ophthalmoscope, measuring intraocular pressure, as well as examining the position, movement and pupillary responses of the eye are among the examination methods taught during the course. In order to support students’ professional orientation, the course includes training to develop their expertise.

  • Eye structure and function
  • Eye examinations at the ophthalmologist’s practice
  • Refractive errors, functional amblyopia and strabismus
  • Differential diagnosis and treatment of a painful red eye
  • Differential diagnosis of quickly and slowly reduced visual acuity
  • Pediatric ocular disorders and child health clinic ophthalmology
  • Emergency care of ocular injuries and removal of foreign objects from the eye
  • Causes of visual impairment and low-vision rehabilitation
  • Treatment scaling in ophthalmology
  • Emergency ophthalmology


Teaching in otorhinolaryngology is based on nationwide core content analysis. Licentiates of Medicine must be proficient in collecting the patient history of otorhinolaryngological patients and examining their status in an appropriate manner. They must also be versed in the options of differential diagnosis and able to evaluate the urgency of required tests and treatments, in addition to which they must be familiar with preset clinical paths. Teaching is primarily based on clinic teaching, with lectures (video lectures included) and teaching in small groups as supportive learning methods.


The objective of specialist education in ophthalmology is to train specialists capable of independent medical work of a high standard that is practical from the perspective of the health requirements of the population. They will also be able to work both in hospitals and as self-employed practitioners. The aims are to provide specialising physicians with the right attitudes, teach them the principles of evidence-based medicine and scientific research, as well as give them sufficient knowhow in the correction of refractive errors, the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of ocular disorders, and ophthalmic surgery and medical rehabilitation.

The duration of the programme is five years, no less than half of which can be completed outside the University hospital. Of this, nine months must be completed at a health care centre. The ophthalmological units of the Jorvi and Peijas hospitals are considered external training units. They are administratively connected to the University hospital, but the service periods completed at these hospitals are equivalent in content to those completed at central hospitals.


The duration of the programme in otorhinolaryngology is five years. In addition to the service period in otorhinolaryngology (four years), the programme consists of a health care centre service period (nine months) and clinical training (three months) in one of the following specialisations: surgery, neurosurgery, or anaesthesiology and intensive care. The theoretical, course-based education included in the programme is 80 hours in scope, 20 hours of which is training in administration and management. Completed education will be monitored with the help of a log book, which will also be used to map out further educational needs for each sub-category of the programme. The log book is available from the programme coordinator. Alternatively, it can be printed out independently.


Research operations at the Department of Ophthalmology and Otorhinolaryngology are active. On average, nearly 200 medical papers completed at the Department are published each year, most of them in international journals of a high standard. Most of the research is conducted by research groups in projects aiming for the completion of doctoral dissertations. Two to four dissertations are completed annually.

Several research projects suitable for advanced studies are available at the Department of Ophthalmology and Otorhinolaryngology and the departments of the hospital district. Further information on these projects is available from the departmental teaching staff. On a case-by-case basis, projects will accept students interested in the field even before completing the relevant clinical course. The Department of Ophthalmology and Otorhinolaryngology annually publishes a research journal introducing research projects and opportunities available at the Department.



Contact details

Head of De­part­ment

professor Tero Kivelä

PO Box 22 (Haartmaninkatu 4)

00014 University of Helsinki

Deputy head of de­part­ment

professor Antti Mäkitie


Department of Eye Diseases

PO Box 22 (Haartmaninkatu 4)

00014 University of Helsinki

Department of Ear, Nose and Throat Diseases

Surgical Hospital, Kasarmikatu 11-13

PO Box 263

00029 HUS