Is the prevalence of blindness related to the number of ophthalmologists practicing in a country?

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Prof. Serge Resnikoff, President of OPC, and his colleagues[1] have looked at the issue and recently published an article[2] in the prestigious British Journal of Ophthalmology.

1 – Density of ophthalmologists across the globe (number of ophthalmologists per million inhabitants)

The authors first determined the density of ophthalmologists at the global level, where there are strong disparities between high-income countries and low-income countries.

Sub-Saharan Africa had the lowest mean number of ophthalmologists per million population, with numbers in Portuguese- and French-speaking countries behind those of English-speaking countries. The situation demonstrates the need to train new ophthalmologists, as well as to deepen OPC’s own interventions in this region of the globe.

The authors also examined the correlations that exist between the prevalence of blindness in a given country and the number of ophthalmologists.

As shown in the graph below, the prevalence of blindness is generally lower in countries with higher densities of ophthalmologists. However, the correlation link remains weak.

2 – Correlations between the prevalence of blindness in a given country and the number of ophthalmologists.

Globally, the authors observed that the total number of ophthalmologists was increasing. This trend, observed in 60% of countries, is encouraging, but not sufficient to adequate address the issue of blindness.

An appropriate distribution of ophthalmologists, as well as the development of health systems that provide comprehensive eye care to their populations, are essential to ensure that eye health needs are universally covered.

If you would like to learn more, read the full article. Enjoy!

[1] Van Charles Lansingh, Lindsey Washburn, William Felch, Tina-Marie Gauthier, Hugh R Taylor, Kristen Eckert, David Parke, Peter Wiedemann

[2] Resnikoff S, Lansingh VC, Washburn L, et al. Br J Ophthalmol Epub ahead of print: [10/18/2019]. doi:10.1136/ bjophthalmol-2019-314336