Children forced to wait up to five years for HSE eye clinic
Children who have been referred to HSE clinics for routine eye checks are facing unacceptable delays of up to five years in some areas, it was claimed yesterday.
However, instead of being on a clinic waiting list for routine services such as prescribing glasses, treating a basic eye condition or monitoring of early stage disease, the children could be treated more quickly and cost effectively in the community, the Association of Optometrists said.
The representative body delivered a submission for the next government urging an elimination of children's eye-care waiting lists - by moving to a community-based model of eye-care. Adviser Lynda McGivney Nolan said that even in urgent cases the waiting time can be six months.
She said the cost of an examination in a HSE clinic is €100 per visit.
"However at an optometrist it is €60 per exam. This has the potential to make a saving of €4.5m based on more than 100,000 annual examinations."
She added: "There are 300 optometry locations across the country with the skills, capacity and equipment to provide a service for all referrals (19,000 per annum) within days.
"Routine cases - such as prescribing glasses, treating a basic condition, or monitoring an early stage disease - could be wholly managed at community level. More complex or urgent cases can be referred by the optometrist to specialist clinic and hospital services."
She insisted that "unacceptable waiting times mean that opportunities for prevention through early intervention are missed. It also means that diagnosis and treatment are delayed and prognosis worsened. This system is unsustainable as it has inadequate capacity."