ICO-SAARC One-Year Subspecialty Fellowships for South Asian Students

"ICO-SAARC One-Year Subspecialty Fellowships"

"ICO-SAARC One-Year Subspecialty Fellowships"This is a fellowship for ophthalmologists from the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, or Sri Lanka), providing a combination of training with local, regional, and international hosts to improve education and access to eye care in the region. It is co-sponsored by the ICO and the Southasian (SAARC) Academy of Ophthalmology (SAO) and supported by the Fred Hollows Foundation.

This one-year (total) fellowship offers two options for study, depending on the training resources available in the applicants’ country:

  • Three months at a national training center in the fellows’ country, six months at a regional center in the SAARC region, and three-months at an international training center (3- 6-3), or
  • Six months at a national center, three months at a regional center and three months at an international center (6-3-3).

Scholarship Overview:

  • Award: Local and regional costs, equaling a total of nine months living costs, are covered by the Southasian (SAARC) Academy of Ophthalmology (SAO). These costs vary and are not defined here. For living expenses for the last three months of study at an international center and for round-trip travel, a maximum amount of US$6000 is awarded. The exact amount is subject to actual student-style living expenses in the host country.
  • The fellowship offers training in the following subspecialties: cornea, glaucoma, pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus, oculoplastics and orbit, or retina.
  • Ten to twelve fellowships will be awarded each year.
  • Fellowships commence the year following application. For example, a successful 2013 applicant will begin his or her fellowship in 2014.
  • The application deadline is September 30 each year and fellowships are awarded no later than January.


  • Applicant must reside in and return to a country in the SAARC region: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, or Sri Lanka.
  • Applicant must be under 40 years of age at the time of applying.
  • Specialist exam in ophthalmology must be successfully passed.
  • He or she must be a graduate of an ophthalmology residency training program.
  • He or she must be recommended by the ophthalmology head of a teaching institution.
  • Applicant must be reasonably fluent in the language of the fellowship training center.
  • Applicant must be committed to return to a position at a teaching institution or public service hospital in the fellow’s home country.
  • Applicants who have passed the ICO Basic Science, the ICO Clinical Sciences, or the ICO Advanced Examinations for Ophthalmologists ( will receive special consideration.
  • Applicants from countries with ophthalmologic societies that are Members of the ICO will receive special consideration.

How to Apply:

  • The application deadline is September 30 of each year.
  • Applicants may reapply if their previous application was rejected. Note that the ICO Fellowship Committee will assume the applicant’s qualifications have significantly improved since last applying.
  • View the online application.
  • Questions? Please review Frequently Asked Questions before contacting the ICO Fellowship Committee at:

For further information: ICO-SAARC One-Year Subspecialty Fellowships


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