About Us

About the COS

The Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) is the national, recognized authority on eye and vision care in Canada. As eye physicians and surgeons, we are committed to assuring the provision of optimal medical and surgical eye care for all Canadians by promoting excellence in ophthalmology and by providing services to support our members in practice. Our membership includes over 900 ophthalmologists and 200 ophthalmology residents. We work collaboratively with government, other national and international specialty societies, our academic communities (ACUPO), our provincial partners and affiliates, and other eye care professionals and patient groups to advocate for health policy in Canada in the area of eye and vision health. COS is an accredited, award-winning provider of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) through the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and is an affiliate of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA).

Message from the President, Dr. Phil Hooper (2022-2024)

Since its formation in 1937, the Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) has been the unified voice for ophthalmologists across Canada. Through the provision of multifaceted and innovative educational opportunities, the COS supports our members in their efforts to provide optimal evidence-based, patient-centred eye care. As leaders in the delivery of this care, we advocate on behalf of the profession to government, regulatory bodies, and the public, on eye health and eye care delivery with the goal of improving access to the highest standard of eye care.

As a physician, your membership in COS provides you with an opportunity to contribute your expertise and experience, ensuring we reflect the diversity of our specialty. Joining Councils, Committees and Working Groups encourages collaboration so you may enjoy the professional and personal benefits of networking with your colleagues. Your membership contributions directly support the critical work being done to educate the public about eye health, to provide outstanding continuing professional development to Canadian ophthalmologists, to publish the Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology, and much more.

I am excited to represent you, our members, and Ophthalmology in Canada, as your President for the next two years. I look forward to serving you.

In health,
Phil Hooper, MD
Canadian Ophthalmological Society

What is Ophthalmology?

Ophthalmology is the branch of medicine that deals with the anatomy, physiology and diseases of the eye. All evaluations that purport to diagnose eye disease should be carried out by a physician. An ophthalmologist is a doctor of medicine who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the eye, in addition to diagnosing systemic disease that manifest in eye signs or symptoms. Since ophthalmologists perform operations on eyes, they are considered to be both surgical and medical specialists.

In fact, the only health professional trained both medically and surgically to treat eye disorders — especially the most serious eye diseases such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma — is an ophthalmologist.

Ophthalmologists offer a comprehensive approach to ocular symptoms and disease.  As well as diagnosing and treating ocular disease either by medical or surgical means, ophthalmologists offer comprehensive ocular-visual assessment, which may include the prescription of corrective lenses.

Learn more about the role of an ophthalmologist in your vision care team.

In Canada, graduates of medical school must complete an ophthalmology residency to become an ophthalmologist.  The residency lasts a minimum of five years after the MD degree.

Extensive surgical experience is incorporated into the last 24 months of training to become an ophthalmologist.  Many ophthalmologists continue their training for a further 12-24 months in a variety of subspecialties.

Historically, the practice of ophthalmology has encompassed all aspects of visual function in health and disease, including refraction, orthoptics, binocular vision and strabismus.  Medical and surgical treatment of disease involving the visual system and awareness of ocular manifestations of systemic disease are also an integral part of the practice of ophthalmology.

As a discipline, ophthalmology also applies to animal eyes, since the differences from human practice are surprisingly minor and are related mainly to variations in anatomy or prevalence as opposed to disease processes.

However, veterinary medicine is traditionally regulated separately in most countries, including Canada, resulting in few ophthalmologists treating both humans and animals.

COS Board of Directors (2023-2025)

Phil Hooper, MD

Mona Harissi-Dagher, MD
President Elect
Chair, Annual Meeting Planning Committee

Vivian Hill, MD
Chair, Council on Advocacy

David Plemel, MD

Cynthia Qian, MD
Chair, Council on Continuing Professional Development

Briar Sexton, MD

Setareh Ziai, MD
Board Liaison, Resident and Young Ophthalmologist Affairs

Did you Know?

COS offers unique membership benefits, a leading-edge Annual Scientific Meeting & Exhibition, a diverse range of Continuing Professional Development services and an Awards program for outstanding achievement or research excellence.

Annual Reports

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