Graduate medical education (GME) in ophthalmology has faced and overcome many challenges over the past years, and 2020 has been a game-changer. Although the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus pandemic disrupted medical education globally, ophthalmic educators rapidly transformed their curricula to novel and effective virtual learning formats. Thus, while the COVID-19 outbreak has been one of the most significant challenges faced in the history of medical education, it has also provided an impetus to develop innovative teaching practices, bringing with it unprecedented success in allowing medical students to continue their education in ophthalmology despite these challenges. We review and appraise novel educational interventions implemented by various institutions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting their effectiveness, challenges and proposing future directions beyond the pandemic. Many of these innovations will persist even after the end of the pandemic because they have proven that face-to-face learning is not required for all aspects of the ophthalmic GME curriculum. As ophthalmic educators harness the power of educational technology it is critical that their novel educational initiatives are incorporated into competency-based curricula with assessments mapped to the competencies. Future research should focus on evaluating the impact of this transformation to virtual learning environments on student performances as well as implementing longitudinal assessment strategies for clinical competence in workplace-based practice.