Connecting Ophthalmologists from Around the World to Achieve Eye Health for Everyone

ICO Examinations



The ICO Examinations are the only worldwide medical-specialty examinations. They are independent and free of any outside influence and can be taken in the candidate’s own country. The questions are prepared by an international group of examiners and set at the same standard as the highest board and qualifying examinations anywhere.

Each year, the ICO offers examinations throughout the world to help ophthalmologists evaluate their knowledge in basic science and clinical sciences related to ophthalmology. The ICO started to offer examinations in 1995. Since then, more than 50,000 ophthalmologists in 84 countries have taken ICO Examinations at 137 testing centers to further their careers, evaluate their knowledge, and meet requirements in their countries to practice.

As a special benefit of ICO membership, the ICO offers more favorable registration rates to candidates from countries whose societies are ICO Members.

Type of Exams

Standard Examinations

The ICO Standard Examinations are divided into three subject areas: 

Visual Sciences

Optics & Refraction and Instruments; and 

Clinical Ophthalmology.

The Clinical Ophthalmology examination is offered to ophthalmologists who have passed the first two components, or an examination of a similar standard recognized by the ICO.

Advanced Examinations

The Advanced ICO Examination (115) is offered to ophthalmologists who have passed all three parts of the ICO Standard Examination, or an examination of a similar standard.

Passing the ICO Advanced Examination, along with a local face-to-face examination, entitles the successful candidate to use the post-nominal acronym FICO (Fellow of the ICO). 

In collaboration with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, ICO Examinations now provide a pathway to become a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow too: all candidates who pass the ICO Standard Examinations are eligible to apply to sit a final clinical FRCS Ophthalmology Examination.  Passing this will lead to the highly recognised FRCS (Ophth) (Glasg) designation.

Subspecialty Examinations

The Subspecialty ICO examinations are designed for candidates who have one years’ experience in their chosen topic. 

The examinations will test up-to-date knowledge and a high level of clinical experience, decision making but cannot be used as an assessment of competence or technical ability.

Foundation Assessments

Available online, the Foundation Assessment is designed for those entering ophthalmology training and first-year ophthalmology residency trainees. Meant as a knowledge assessment and learning tool, the Assessment is accessible worldwide at all times and emphasizes basic and practical ophthalmology learned in the first year of training. ICO Examinations candidates whose societies are ICO Members receive a complimentary Foundation Assessment when applying for any of the ICO Standard Examinations.

Go to the Foundation Assessment website

Applications and Fees

Applications for the Examinations can now be completed online thru the ICO Registration Site.

Candidates wishing to withdraw their applications must do so in writing. For withdrawals received before the closing date a full refund will be given (less a small charge for administration).

No refunds will be allowed for candidates who fail to attend the Examination or who withdraw after the closing date.  Local charges may apply.

Applications received after the closing date may not be considered. Candidate may not be allowed to take the Examination.

IMPORTANT: The bank information for payments made by wire transfers has changed. Please contact the ICO Examinations Office for details (

No refund is given to candidates who enroll for both papers but only complete part of the Examination.

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