Optometrists across Ireland have issued a call to political parties and candidates standing for election to support community-based eye care services.
In a general election manifesto launched by the Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI) on Monday (15 February), the organisation stressed that visual impairment and blindness are “significantly” on the increase in Ireland, with an estimated 75% of eye disease preventable through regular sight tests.
Chief executive of the AOI, Peter Coleman, said: “Increased eye care services in the community would reduce waiting times for hospital out-patient and treatment services. By providing more timely treatment, the level of vision impairment and blindness can be reduced. Investment in cost-effective, community-based eye care interventions can save the state an estimated €76m in treatment costs.”
In the manifesto document, the AOI calls on political parties to help eliminate the waiting list for children’s eye care by utilising optometrists, increase primary care services in the community in order to receive waiting lists for the treatment of cataract and macular degeneration, and to extend services provided under the Department of Social Protection Optical Benefit Scheme to match services offered to medical card holders.
The manifesto also asks for support on the publication and implementation of National Eye Care Plan recommendations, and the implementation of recommendations by the HSE Eye Care Review.