OBJECTIVES: The increasing demand for medical specialties with flexible working hours has been associated with the important role of quality of life as a determining factor when choosing a career in medicine, which might change the motivations for pursuing a career in ophthalmology. We aim to identify the main determinants of ophthalmology as a career choice as well as the reasons that motivated previous generations to follow this path. METHODS: Responses to self-administered online questionnaires were analyzed. RESULTS: A total of 225 responses were analyzed, including those of baby boomers (21), generation X (48), generation Y (131) and generation Z (25). Although the main reasons for choosing ophthalmology as a career are the same for all the generations in this study (flexible working hours, self-satisfaction from helping people improve their vision and the possibility of performing surgical procedures), some reasons for this career choice are more important to the younger generations (short-term results and short procedures), and some are more important to the older generations (the influence of an ophthalmologist in the family). CONCLUSION: The main reasons for choosing ophthalmology as a career are essentially the same over time. The differences in secondary motivations could be explained by generational differences.