Survey finds West Cork has longest wait for cataract surgery

There is a five-year waiting list for cataract surgery in West Cork, according to the Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI).

The body carried out a nationwide survey of its members and found the average wait is just over two years.

The shortest wait time is in Sligo and Leitrim at just over a year where the Sligo Cataract Scheme is in operation.

The survey also found that the average wait for private cataract surgery across the country was three months.

AOI estimates that rolling out the scheme nationwide could save up to 20,000 hospital appointments per year and reduce system costs.

AOI President Tríona Culliton 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 problem in Ireland was an over reliance on HSE Eye Clinics and Hospital Ophthalmology departments to provide almost all public care, including even the most basic and routine care.

Ms Culliton said: “Optometrists can provide routine care such as eye examinations, glasses fitting, pre- and post-surgery check-ups in the community.

"Only more complex cases need be referred to our colleagues in HSE Eye Clinics or hospital eye Departments. This is the model widely and successfully in operation across the UK and Europe."

The survey also asked AOI members if they would be willing to contribute towards relieving pressure on overburdened hospitals and clinics.

97% said they were immediately available to deliver the Sligo Cataract Scheme.

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