Concerns have been raised that delays in NHS eye care could lead to preventable blindness

ByMartha R. Camara

Jul 12, 2022

A consultant has expressed concern that a ‘tide of avoidable blindness’ could sweep Wales if eye care services are not reformed.

Gwyn Williams, of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, said wait times for key treatments were “the longest they have ever been”.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said she ‘puts her head in her hands’ every night on the state of the Welsh NHS.

Mr Williams added that the main areas of ophthalmology with ‘detrimental delays’ in Wales were macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease and glaucoma.

The latest data shows that more than half of the 133,000 scheduled appointments for most-at-risk eye patients were significantly late.

Mr Williams said Wales did not have enough consultant eye doctors and needed to reform the system as recruitment was difficult. This includes training non-medical practitioners to do work that is traditionally done by doctors, such as administering injections, examining patients after injections, and preparing patients for cataract surgery.

He went on to say, “If we don’t take permanent and appropriate steps to resolve these difficulties, I don’t see how the functional health service can continue.

“Without addressing these issues, we risk seeing many people in Wales becoming unnecessarily blind.”

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