Sunday 21 July 2019

Three year wait for eye surgeries

Ken Phelan

Patients in Fingal are waiting three years for public cataract surgery, with waiting times for appointments for children under 12 being one year, a recent survey has highlighted.

The second nationwide annual survey by the Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI) found that the average wait for cataract surgery across the country is 29 months, and up to five years in some parts of the country.

The AOI survey found in contrast that the average wait for private cataract surgery nationwide was just three months.

The survey of hundreds of practising optometrists also asked about children's eye-care, where major variations in local services were identified.

The survey found that there was an average wait of 14 months for public eye-care for under twelves, ranging significantly from more than two years (25 months) in Wexford to just three months in Tipperary. Thirty seven per cent of respondents said their local HSE office would not authorise optometrists to examine children aged 12-16 who have a medical card, while 53% said the HSE would authorise these examinations. AOI President Patricia Dunphy said the survey showed the urgent need for the Minister for Health to intervene and affect an overhaul of eye-care services.

She said: 'The core priorities are to roll out the award winning 'Sligo Cataract Scheme' nationwide, with optometrists and hospital eye departments working more closely together. And secondly to roll out a national scheme to allow children up to age sixteen, who do not need medical or surgical management, to be examined in the community when necessary by optometrists.'

She added: 'The cause of our massive and worsening waiting times is an over-reliance on public eye clinics and hospital ophthalmology departments to provide even the most basic care.'

AOI has estimated that in excess of €30m could be saved through optometry services.

The organisation claims it is 50% less expensive to provide care in the community rather than in hospital.

Fingal Independent