Waiting Lists For Laser Eye Surgery

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People Before Profit TD Calls on the Minister for Health to urgently sort out the waiting lists for laser eye surgery as patients are unnecessarily going blind

Brid Smith to raise this issue at Topical Issues in the Dáil today

Brid Smith TD has warned the Minister for Health that cataract patients are going blind while they are left on a waiting list for more than 3 years. This was highlighted by a local constituent, Patrick Foley, who contacted Deputy Smith in relation to his deteriorating eyesight.

Patrick is 42 years of age and is a carer for his wife Carmel who has MS. Despite referrals from his local GP to the Eye and Ear Hospital, Patrick has been waiting over 3 years for much-needed laser eye surgery.

Bríd Smith said: “Patrick is unnecessarily going blind and is terrified for himself and for his wife who he provides full-time care to. He is suffering needlessly and the national scandal of the waiting list for cataract surgery means he will most likely go blind if the Minister doesn’t act urgently.  At the end of 2017 the waiting list for cataracts surgery was 8,500 people with some on waiting lists for up to 4 years in certain parts of the country. The National Council for the Blind has warned that the ophthalmology waiting lists are out of control and that as much as 75% of sight loss is unavoidable due to the waiting lists. I agree with Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon Mr Keegan of the Mater Hospital when he previously stated that this is a “hidden scandal”. 

“In the particular case of Mr Foley he is not able to get the funds up front for Cross-Border scheme as he is on Carers Allowance and his wife is on Disability. They have no means to have savings or to get a loan, and travelling would require getting care for his wife. The HSE is not willing to pay upfront in cases like this where there is an exceptional circumstance.

“Looking at my own local area of Dublin South Central the Association of Optometrists Ireland research shows that those able to pay for private care wait 3 months average.  It is the real Fine Gael policy that those who have money get treated, and to hell with the rest.  The privatisation agenda of this Government is failing people, and they don’t seem to care if that results in people going blind.

“I am calling on the Minister for Health and the HSE to ensure Patrick receives the necessary funding so that his treatment can be completed so that he doesn’t go blind.”

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Contact- Bríd Smith TD- 087 909 0166

Nick Lee (Press Officer)- 087 615 6473