The commission is chaired by António Augusto Magalhães, an ophthalmologist at the São João Hospital, and has 13 other people as members, including paediatrician Gonçalo Cordeiro Ferreira, of the Lisbon Central Hospital and ophthalmologist Joaquim Neto Murta, of University Hospital Coimbra.

The committee has 60 days, starting on Monday, to present a proposal for a National Strategy for Vision Healt. The members of the commission are unpaid.

Fernando Araújo, the Deputy Secretary of State for Health who signed the order, said that a strategy for vision health is required, 'based on the positive results," of pilot experiments for amblyopia screening in children, as well as for diabetic retinopathy.

According to the Visual Health Programme of the Directorate-General for Health, in Portugal it is estimated that about half the population suffers from changes in vision, ranging from a decrease in visual acuity to blindness, and that around 20% of children, half of the adult population suffers from significant refractive errors and about half of blind people are of working age.

In Portugal, the main causes of vision loss include cataracts, ocular diabetes, glaucoma and macular diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration.