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Children in Galway left in the dark on eye test waiting times

More than 2,600 children are waiting for over a year for a public eye examination in Galway.

The shock figures revealed by the Health Service Executive show that 3,782 children are on the waiting list in Galway for a public eye exam, with 2,633 of those waiting for more than a year.

Galway children are in a far worse situation compared to neighbouring Roscommon.

Roscommon-based Galway West TD Denis Naughten said there were 226 children on the waiting list in Roscommon, 163 of whom have been waiting more than a year for an appointment.

“These waiting lists are completely unacceptable and could potentially have huge implications for our children,” he stated.

“These are children who may be experiencing difficulties in school in, for example, being able to see the board in class due to the fact that they cannot obtain an eye test.

“These examinations are important to ensure not just that children have good vision but also that their eyes are healthy.

“This is just the latest in a long line of services and therapies with unprecedented waiting lists and we need to have these addressed as a matter of urgency or our children will lose out as a result.”

Last month Optometry Ireland (OI) criticised the “geographical lottery” in public eyecare for eight to 16 years olds in Ireland. In some areas over 8s can receive free eye examinations via their local optometrist.

There is no national eye care scheme, which was acknowledged as a gap by the HSE years ago, but their response to address that gap has been “very slow, minimal and piecemeal”.

“All regions have significant waiting times for public eye exams for children aged 8-16. If there is any cause for concern all children should have timely access to a state funded eye exam at their local optometrist,” insisted the group’s CEO Seán McCrave.

OI president Tania Constable encouraged all adults to be aware of any potential issue with children.

“Children can’t always articulate when something is wrong, and the earlier an adult can detect a problem with their vision, the better. Look out for children sitting closer to the TV, rubbing their eyes more, or complaining of headaches.

“There is no more straightforward way to look after your eyes than by going for a routine eye examination, which is recommended every two years for adults. Eyes don’t always present symptoms when something is wrong, but you might notice changes in your vision.

“Itchy, dry or red eyes could indicate an eye condition. While this is usually nothing to worry about, it is advisable to make an appointment if the symptoms don’t fade independently. It’s essential to be aware of eye health, and to see a professional if something isn’t right.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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