A Profile of Neuro-Ophthalmic Practice Around the World

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Abstract

Background:

To compare contrast neuro-ophthalmic practice in various countries, an 18-question survey was sent to the international North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society (NANOS) members in the spring of 2016.

Methods:

At least 1 NANOS member was contacted for each non-US nation in the NANOS membership roster. If there were multiple NANOS members from 1 country, multiple were contacted. If responses were received from more than 1 person from a single country, the first response received was used as the source data. The survey (in English) was emailed to 47 NANOS members from 31 countries. Twenty responses were received representing members from 15 nations.

Results:

In all 15 nations, at least half of the neuro-ophthalmologists were trained as ophthalmologists. In 60% of nations, at least half of the neuro-ophthalmologists were trained internally, whereas in 33% of countries, at least half were trained in the United States. The number of physicians who practiced a significant amount of neuro-ophthalmology ranged from low (0.08/million, India) to high (3.10/million, Israel). Countries having the highest percentage of neuro-ophthalmologists exclusively practicing neuro-ophthalmology also were those with better patient access to neuro-ophthalmic care. Requirement of approval to see a neuro-ophthalmologist or for imaging studies requested by neuro-ophthalmologists was not typical. In most nations, academic neuro-ophthalmologists were paid a straight salary. In no nation were neuro-ophthalmologists paid more than another ophthalmic subspecialty.

Conclusions:

Individual national health care system designs and compensation models have had a profound influence on the rewards and challenges that face neuro-ophthalmologists. There seems to have been a connection between recognition of the discipline, financial rewards of neuro-ophthalmic practice, conditions that permit full-time neuro-ophthalmic practice, and patient access to care. A higher percentage of gross national product for health care did not seem to insure an adequate supply of neuro-ophthalmologists.

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