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Visual Sciences



The Visual Sciences Examination is frequently taken early in residency training. The examination is presented in a booklet and consists of 120 multiple-choice questions. The complete examination takes three hours. This examination is part of the pathway towards Fellow of the International Council of Ophthalmology designation FICO and Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow designation FRCS (Ophth) (Glasg).

Each question consists of four options with a single best answer. The candidates enter their answers on response sheets which are then computer marked. A positive mark is awarded for each correct answer. No mark is given to those questions marked incorrectly or left blank. Answering all the questions accurately is the best way of obtaining a passing grade, but because the accuracy of answers is very important and takes time, it is still possible to pass the examination without completing all the questions. Candidates will receive free access to the online Foundation Assessment. This can be used to help prepare for the Visual Sciences Examination.


  • Anatomy of the Eye, the Orbit and related structures
  • Neuro-Anatomy
  • Vision, Ocular Physiology, Biochemistry and Cell Biology
  • Epidemiology and Statistics
  • Pathology and Micro-biology


As this is a secure international examination it takes time for all the papers to be returned for scoring. Results are typically mailed to candidates six weeks after taking the examination. By order of the International Council of Ophthalmology, results from other test centers will not be released and will remain confidential.


The examinations are taken in English. Other languages will be considered if there are enough candidates to justify the additional translation of the questions.


Provided candidates have satisfied the regulations regarding the Visual Sciences Examination, they will be given a certificate signed by the President of the ICO and the Chief Executive Officer. The certificate includes security features and the ICO logo. The certificate indicates:

  • passed with Distinction
  • passed with Merit
  • passed
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