Ophthalmology waiting lists are an eye-opener

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has been urged to ‘open its eyes’ to the risks posed to children’s eyesight due to lengthy waiting lists.

There are 188 children in South Galway waiting over a year for ophthalmology services, according to figures supplied to the Connacht Tribune.

However, the HSE says it has no money to appoint a community ophthalmologist to help to clear the backlog.

A further 21 children are waiting 12 months for eye clinics in South Galway, including in Peterswell, Gort, Kinvara, and Ardrahan.

Some 17 are waiting nine months and 40 are waiting for less than three months.

“There are no resources available to provide additional clinics to deal with the waiting lists in South Galway,” the HSE said in a statement.

The Ophthalmology Department has only recently begun collating waiting lists for the eye clinics for children and so there aren’t waiting lists figures available for other years to compare.

Galway East Deputy Anne Rabbitte said it was “absolutely crazy” that there are almost 190 children in South Galway waiting over a year for an ophthalmology clinic appointment.

“These are children who have been identified as needing treatment. In total, you have about 300 children in South Galway on the waiting lists, and the majority of them have been waiting for over a year. The figures speak for themselves. The parents of these children are worried. There is an urgent need to appoint a community ophthalmologist to ensure that these children are seen in a timely manner,” said Deputy Rabbitte.

The Fianna Fáil frontbench spokesperson for children and youth affairs said that, as in most areas of health, early diagnosis and early intervention was the key.

“Early intervention, and corrective intervention is essential. You could have a child of five or six, who has to wear glasses for a year or two but if fine then. That’s corrective action – taking the steps now to sort out a lazy eye, for example. The HSE needs to open its eyes to the growing waiting lists, and to take corrective action,” said Deputy Rabbitte.