Charity calls waiting lists "extremely concerning"
One in five patients wait over a year for eye appointments and procedures, according to a leading eyesight charity.
Fighting Blindness is callng for a more "comprehensive approach" to address ophthalmology hospital in-patient and day case waiting lists, as more than 13,000 wait months for eye appointments and procedures.
Ophthalmology had the fifth highest list for out-patient treatment at 31,868, with one in five waiting more than a year.
The figures are released as the charity hosts a RETINA conference looking at ways to treat and cure vision impairment.
Kevin Whelan, the Chief Executive Officer at Fighting Blindness, believes that the Review of Primary Care Eye Services offers a potential roadmap to providing a more effective service for all patients and addressing waiting lists.
"Current ophthalmology waiting list numbers are extremely concerning," he said. "They mean that a sight issue will continue to interfere with a person's quality of life for so much longer than is necessary. More particularly, for people with rare degenerative eye conditions, it means that they are not being monitored regularly and so we are not able to learn more about these complex conditions and how they will affect people long-term."
The number of people with visual impairments is expected to rise to 272,000 by 2020. The main contributing factors are an ageing population and diseases such as diabetes.
Wait times across the HSE have risen since Simon Harris became the Minister for Health. Earlier this month, Harris has expressed a desire to work with the National Treatment Purchase Fund to alleviate waiting lists in the months ahead.