More than 51,000 people are waiting for vital eye care but all planned ophthalmology procedures are on hold because of Covid-19.
Fianna Fáil TD, Seán Fleming, found that over 19,000 people, 37% of the total, are waiting for more than a year for treatment.
“Now that the opticians have reopened there is going to be a surge in the number of new referrals and the waiting list is obviously going to increase dramatically,” Mr Fleming warned.
He wants the Minister for Health, Simon Harris to put special arrangements in place to deal with the backlog.
The waiting list update was given to Mr Fleming when he asked the minister how many people were waiting for eye procedures.
Last month, 41,401 were waiting to be seen as out-patients while 9,822 were waiting for hospital operations and procedures.
The most common ophthalmology procedures carried out are to treat cataracts and glaucoma as well as macular degeneration, diabetic and cancer related treatment.
The minister says his department, the HSE and the National Treatment Purchase Fund are currently working together to estimate the impact of Covid-19 on scheduled care waiting lists in order to be prepared to address any backlog.
President of the Irish College of Ophthalmologists, Dr Patricia Quinlan, said all the resources and expertise available in clinics and hospitals should be used to the greatest extent possible when eye care services resume.
“There is no doubt as we emerge from the pandemic and ophthalmologists resume services and elective surgeries that we will face the challenge of providing medically necessary services to patients whose health care needs were postponed during the crisis,” she said.