Purpose: To assess the number of ophthalmologists in Brazil, their regional distribution, ophthalmologist/habitant ratio, and the relation between ophthalmologist and State Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita to aid public health policies.
Methods: An ecologic study was conducted. Data were obtained from the "Census 2011 Brazilian Ophthalmology Council", from "Demographic Census of Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) 2010 and from "Brazilian Regional Accounts, 2005-2009"- Ministry of Planning, Budget and Management - IBGE.
Results: The number of ophthalmologists in Brazil is 15,719. Considering the performance in more than one municipality, the number of ophthalmologists in service is 17,992, that is, one ophthalmologist for 10,601; the ophthalmologist/site ratio vary among the States from a minimum of 1/51,437 (Amapá) to a maximum of 1/4,279 (Distrito Federal). There is a correlation among State GDP per capita and the number of ophthalmologists/habitant: the higher the GDP per capita, the larger is the number of ophthalmologists acting in the State (p<0.0001).
Conclusion: According to this study, there is no lack of Ophthalmologists in the country, but a distribution imbalance which leads to professional shortage in particular places. A higher concentration of ophthalmologists/inhabitants was noticed in States which the economic growth is higher, expressed by the GDP per capita.