Eye care waiting lists leave 41,600 in queue for specialist
The number of patients waiting to see an eye specialist has risen to 41,600 - a increase of nearly 2,000 in a year.
Of these, some 16,200 have been waiting more than a year and 10,500 for longer than 18 months, according to the Association of Optometrists (AOI).
Optometrists are recommending radical reform of eye care to transfer more patients to specialists in the community.
"In Ireland, we have an unusual over-reliance on hospital ophthalmology departments. This is a flawed approach that cannot and will not meet patient demand," the AOI said.
It called for specialists to be granted prescribing rights for antibiotic and steroid drops, which it said members were already qualified to do.
This would not require any additional training, just an amendment to the Medicines Act.
Specialists could also treat glaucoma, if allowed, with the benefit of extra training.