46,000 patients waiting for ophthalmology treatment in Ireland

Optometry Ireland has shared that 16,500 patients have been waiting more than a year for hospital eye care

Pixabay/Sasin Tipchai

The waiting list for eye care within hospitals in Ireland has grown to 46,000.

National Treatment Purchase Fund figures to December 2021 reveal that 38,900 people were on the outpatient waiting list, while 7600 people were waiting for inpatient eye procedures.

Within the outpatient list, 6500 people had been waiting for eye care for more than a year and 12,200 had care delayed by more than 18 months.

President of Optometry Ireland, John Weldon, shared that three areas are key to addressing “unacceptable delays” for eye care: cataract, children, and coding.

Weldon encouraged the Government to roll out the Sligo cataract scheme nationwide.

The initiative reduced waiting lists in the north west of Ireland by collaboration between community optometrists and ophthalmologists to manage cataracts.

“We need our surgeons to be delivering surgery, rather than dealing with work that is within the scope of practice of optometrists,” Weldon emphasised.

Optometry Ireland is also calling for optometrists to be instrumental in improving eye care for school children.

“In addition to the ‘postcode lottery’ created by disparate local eye-care schemes, our national screening system for national school children collapsed,” Weldon shared.

“Optometrists have the capacity and expertise to lead out on delivery of a new programme for school children,” he highlighted.

Lastly Optometry Ireland is calling a statutory instrument that would standardise current practice around additional treatments, such as removal of foreign bodies under topical anaesthesia, treatment of minor eye infections, inflammation, and allergy.

Weldon concluded by emphasising the role that optometrists can play in improving public health.

“There are 300 practices and 700 optometrists all across the country who are highly trained, have state of the art equipment and have capacity to provide more services, and at less cost than hospitals,” he said.