Br J Ophthalmol 96:783-787 doi:10.1136/bjophthalmol-2011-301378
  • Global issues

The number of ophthalmologists in practice and training worldwide: a growing gap despite more than 200 000 practitioners

Press Release
  1. Bruce Spivey2
  1. 1International Health and Development, Geneva, Switzerland
  2. 2International Council of Ophthalmology, San Francisco, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Serge Resnikoff, 16 A quai du Seujet, Geneva, 1201, Switzerland; serge.resnikoff{at}
  1. Contributors All authors contributed to the creation of this article in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis and interpretation of the data; or preparation, review and approval of the manuscript.

  • Accepted 13 February 2012
  • Published Online First 26 March 2012


Background/aims To assess the current number of ophthalmologists practicing worldwide in 2010 and to create a system for maintaining, collecting and improving the accuracy of data on ophthalmologists per population, ophthalmologists performing surgery, growth rate of the profession, and the number of residents in training.

Methods Between March 2010 and April 2010, the International Council of Ophthalmology emailed a standardised survey of 12 questions to 213 global ophthalmic societies. Missing data and additional information were gathered from direct correspondences with ophthalmologist contacts.

Results The total number of ophthalmologists reported was 204 909. Data are presented for 193 countries. Information was obtained from 67 countries on the number of ophthalmologists doing surgery, entering practice, leaving practice, rate of growth and resident training.

Conclusion The survey results show that despite over 200 000 ophthalmologists worldwide, there is currently a significant shortfall of ophthalmologists in developing countries. Furthermore, although the number of practitioners is increasing in developed countries, the population aged 60+ is growing at twice the rate of the profession. To meet this widening gap between need and supply, it is necessary to aggressively train eye care teams now to alleviate the current and anticipated deficit of ophthalmologists worldwide.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The complete ICO data set will be available online at, and ophthalmic societies are encouraged to participate in improving the accuracy of these data by reviewing and updating their information.

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