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22 March 2024

Improving access to eye care – World Optometry Week

World Optometry Week (17-23 March 2024) highlights the importance of caring for your eyes and optometrists' role in increasing access to eye care.

During the week, FODO Ireland called on Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to follow through on his commitment to move the care of children aged eight and over to local optical practices.

The call comes seven years after the national clinical programme for ophthalmology recommended the move in its 2017 report on a new model for eye care.

At present, some individual areas have similar schemes, but many do not, and the funding arrangements vary across the country. In the national scheme, all eight-year-olds and over on hospital waiting lists for eye care will be transferred to local optical practices to receive funded eye examinations.

The change means:

  • Reduced waiting times for children to access eye care
  • Children could access care closer to home
  • Standardised and funded access nationwide for children aged eight and over
  • Reduced waiting lists for others who remain in hospital care
  • Hospital eye care teams are freed up to focus on patients who need specialist diagnostics or treatment, including very young children.

Speaking on local radio, Clodagh McGovern, FODO Ireland Board member, said: "No child in this country should be at a disadvantage based on their postcode." She added that "research has shown that 60% of existing outpatient activity could be moved out into primary care and into your local opticians" and that "we have the capacity to deal with this".

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Garvan Mulligan, FODO Ireland Chair, said: "Missing a child, leaving them out of a system for the year, is serious for their long-term vision. It has long-term implications for what job they can do; what vision they will have in that eye."

Daniel Hodgson, FODO Ireland's Head of Policy, said: "The commitment the Minister has made to transfer the care of children to local optometry will give more service users access to appropriate eye care services now and in the future. We hope the commitment, which has been significantly delayed, will not be delayed further."

Read the news coverage.

Listen to Garvan

Listen to Clodagh

Read more about World Optometry Week.



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FODO Ireland
FODO Ireland


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