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Estimated number of ophthalmologists worldwide (International Council of Ophthalmology update): will we meet the needs?
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  • Published on:
    Response to eLetter: The Estimated Number of Ophthalmologists Worldwide (International Council of Ophthalmology Update): Will We Meet the Needs?
    • Serge Resnikoff, Ophthalmologist International Council of Ophthalmology
    • Other Contributors:
      • Van C. Lansingh, Ophthalmologist
      • Lindsey Washburn, Communications Specialist
      • William Felch, Former Head of International Council of Ophthalmology
      • Tina-Marie Gauthier, Medical Writer and Editor
      • Hugh Taylor, Ophthalmologist
      • Kristen A. Eckert, Medical Writer and Editor
      • David W. Parke II, Ophthalmologist
      • Peter Wiedemann, Ophthalmologist

    We appreciate the comment provided by Dr. Martins regarding our recent estimates of the global number of ophthalmologists, and we agree wholeheartedly with his points, which are encapsulate in the conclusion of our article.1 We appreciate the opportunity to further elaborate.
    Although the global ophthalmologist workforce appears to be continuously growing, our most important finding is that the numbers alone are not sufficient to ensure universal eye health coverage, with no relationship observed between national prevalence of blindness and ophthalmologist density.1 We believe the appropriate distribution, and deployment of ophthalmologist and eye care teams, combined with outreach services where appropriate are important solutions to increasing access of eye care among remote populations. However, we especially stress that the integration of comprehensive eye care into the health care system is critical to universal eye health coverage.2 We emphasize the need for different models of care and service-delivery and the role of the eye care professional cadres, including optometrists and allied ophthalmic personnel, particularly in task-shifting refraction and basic eye care services.
    Comprehensive eye care begins at the primary care level,2 and we agree that more ophthalmology education is needed as part of medical education. If primary care providers are able to provide basic eye care services at the community level, then it is assumed that task-shifting of the...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    KAE was a paid consultant to this study.
  • Published on:
    Estimated number of ophthalmologists worldwide (International Council of Ophthalmology update): will we meet the needs?
    • Thiago GS Martins, MD 1- Federal University of São Paulo. 2- Ludwig Maximilians University 3 – University of Coimbra

    In the response to the article titled “Estimated number of ophthalmologists worldwide (International Council of Ophthalmology update): will we meet the needs?.” published in your esteemed journal, which is a well thought off and written paper, I would like to raise few points regarding this study.
    The article concluded that the estimated global ophthalmologist workforce appears to be growing, but, the appropriate distribution of the eye care workforce and the development of comprehensive eye care delivery systems are needed to ensure that eye care needs are universally met.1
    However, we can see that better population care requires more complex solutions than just increasing the number of ophthalmologists. Ophthalmologists need complex devices to perform diagnostics and surgery. That way, they end up in places with the necessary infrastructure for it. This problem does not affect the population of countries with good public transport infrastructure that allows people in small towns to access hospitals with ophthalmic care. However, this is not the reality of most of the world's population. In this way, other solutions must be considered.
    The teaching of ophthalmology in medical schools has been gradually reduced. The number of colleges in countries such as the United States, which have a compulsory formal internship in ophthalmology, has dropped from 68% in 2000 to 30% in 2004.2 Consequently, training has been ineffective in building basic knowledge i...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.