Estimating Eye Care Provider Supply and Workforce Requirements

by Paul Lee, Catherine A. Jackson, Daniel A. Relles

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The authors conducted a workforce study of eye care providers (ophthalmologists, non-ophthalmic physicians, and optometrists) in the United States. Using data from a RAND survey of U.S. ophthalmologists and from publicly available datasets, the authors determined the supply of available providers, and estimated the present and future public health need for eye providers and the current level of demand. The authors then reconciled the supply of providers with present demand and need for services with future need through the year 2010. The study found an overall large surplus of eye care providers in the United States. Which type of provider will have the greatest surplus depends on whether the health care delivery system allocates patients to optometrists or to general ophthalmologists for primary care.

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