Ophthalmology Census 2021: A Demographic Characterisation of Ophthalmologists in Portugal


  • Paula Martins Leitão College of Ophthalmology. Portuguese Medical Association. Lisbon; Department of Ophthalmology. Associação Protectora dos Diabéticos de Portugal. Lisbon. https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0545-635X
  • Sandra Oliveira Santarém Higher School of Management and Technology. Instituto Politécnico de Santarém. Santarém; Life Quality Research Centre. Instituto Politécnico de Santarém. Santarém; Center for Innovation in Biomedicine and Biotechnology. Universidade de Coimbra. Coimbra. https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4925-9227
  • Ana Miranda College of Ophthalmology. Portuguese Medical Association. Lisbon; Department of Ophthalmology. Hospital Garcia de Orta. Almada.
  • Carla Vivas Research Center. Instituto Universitário Militar. Lisbon. https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3694-8541
  • João Nascimento Santarém Higher School of Management and Technology. Instituto Politécnico de Santarém. Santarém. https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4283-5829
  • Susana Leal Santarém Higher School of Management and Technology. Instituto Politécnico de Santarém. Santarém; Center for Innovation in Biomedicine and Biotechnology. Universidade de Coimbra. Coimbra. https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8796-8289
  • Joana Tavares Ferreira College of Ophthalmology. Portuguese Medical Association. Lisbon; Department of Ophthalmology. Centro Hospitalar Universitário de Lisboa Norte. Lisbon. https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2237-3962
  • Augusto Magalhães College of Ophthalmology. Portuguese Medical Association. Lisbon; Department of Ophthalmology. Centro Hospitalar Universitário de São João. Oporto.




Ophthalmologists/statistics & numerical data, Ophthalmology, Portugal, Surveys and Questionnaires


Introduction: Human resources in ophthalmology have recently received particular attention, and it has been questioned whether there is a sufficient number of workers. The aim of this study was to analyze and characterize Portugal’s ophthalmologist population.
Methods: In this descriptive, cross-sectional study, an online questionnaire was sent to all ophthalmologists registered with the Portuguese College of Ophthalmology in December 2021. Information on the following variables was collected and analyzed: demographic factors, professional qualifications, professional activity, weekly professional activity and medium-term plans.
Results: Among the 910 registered ophthalmologists, a response rate of 64.7% was achieved. There were 0.9 ophthalmologists for every 10 000 inhabitants, 0.45:10 000 working in the public sector (0.35:10 000 full-time equivalent). Among the respondents, 57.6% were over 50 years old (59.6% male), 97.3% were Portuguese, 46.7% completed their residency in the Lisbon region, 27.3% complemented their programme with additional training, 9.5% had a PhD and approximately 58% lived and worked in large urban centres. Regarding professional activity, 58.5% of the respondents worked in the public sector (4.2% exclusively), while 67.9% worked in different economic sectors. The median number of weekly working hours reported was 45 hours, with those in the public sector reporting 35 hours. Private/social sector work and public sector work accounted for 12 926 hours/week and 10 808 hours/week, respectively. It was found that 31.4% of the respondents provided emergency medical services and that 52.8% performed surgical procedures more than once a week. Looking ahead, 38.7% of the ophthalmologists intended to reduce their workload within the next five years due to family reasons, fatigue and demotivation. The projected rate of retirement or cessation of activity in the next five years was estimated to be 1.7%, while an average of 20 new ophthalmologists are expected to enter the profession annually, resulting in a generational balance of 0.8%.
Conclusion: While the number of ophthalmologists in Portugal meets the international recommendations, there is a shortage in the public sector and most ophthalmologists work in large urban centres. The number of ophthalmologists in Portugal is expected to be stable for the next five years.


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How to Cite

Martins Leitão P, Oliveira S, Miranda A, Vivas C, Nascimento J, Leal S, Tavares Ferreira J, Magalhães A. Ophthalmology Census 2021: A Demographic Characterisation of Ophthalmologists in Portugal. Acta Med Port [Internet]. 2024 Mar. 13 [cited 2024 Jul. 25];37(6):419-28. Available from: https://actamedicaportuguesa.com/revista/index.php/amp/article/view/20321