A 91 year-old Ferns man with cataracts has been left stranded in his home after being told he must wait at least 12 months for an eye test appointment at a specialist eye clinic or pay €4,000 to be treated privately.
The man began experiencing issues with his eyesight in August and, on visiting his optician, was advised to make an appointment for an eye test at Ardkeen Hospital. His daughter attempted to make an appointment on his behalf and was informed that he must wait at least 12 months to be seen at the clinic.
According to the woman, the response proved extremely difficult for her father, who, before now, would usually enjoy making short trips to the nearby towns and to see his horses.
"It has really knocked his confidence,” she said. “During the week, he would usually drive as far as Enniscorthy or to Ferns but now he’s just staying at home. The fact that they’re waiting another year is really terrible. It means he will be 92 before they see him. And that would be just to see daddy. God knows then they will do the cataract surgery.”
On seeking further advice, the woman was told that seeking private treatment may be the best option. The man received an appointment with the Ophthalmology Department at Whitfield Hospital in less than two weeks but, while he was told he can receive surgery in November, he is unable to afford the €4,000 cost.
“The days are awful long on him. Before he had the cataracts, you would see daddy with his bucket with his oats and his grain in it to go and see the horses,” she said. “Now he can’t go anywhere. He’s just sitting down all day at home on his own.”
"You pity him sitting there 24 hours a day. I’m heartbroken over it. He could be out driving and doing things but this has completely taken his independence.”
Desperate to give her father his freedom back, the woman contacted local councillor, Diarmuid Devereux to see if he could assist them.
"No elderly person should be put through that much trouble just to be able to see. It’s soul-destroying really. I just find it is absolutely scandalous. We will just keep fighting for him,” he said.
“He was told he has to wait a year to get into Ardkeen just for an appointment and when he went privately, he was seen in a week and a half. It sends the message that only elderly people with money and insurance can get their eyes done.”