According to the 2016 census, there are 54,810 people in Ireland who are blind or visually impaired and the number is rising.
Patient Waiting Lists:
At the end of April, National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) outpatient data reported that 43,455 people are currently waiting for outpatient ophthalmic services, the highest number of people recorded to date. Since the beginning of 2019, this figure has grown by 3,012 people. Ophthalmic services are now recognised as the fourth longest waitlist of any specialty.
Aids and Appliances: Eyewear
People with sight loss are spending €5.74 per week on specialist prescription glasses/lenses and high spec sun filter glasses, without which many people affected by glare cannot leave the house. High spec, sometimes prescription, sunglasses are an essential item for an individual with vision impairment as daylight can affect a person’s eye condition and often causes pain and incapacity to see anything.
The statistics indicate that the level of labour force participation amongst people who are blind and vision-impaired in Ireland is only 24.4% . This figure states that less than 1 in 4 people with impaired vision are currently actively participating in the labour force. People with impaired vision have a 60% less chance of being in employment than the general population.
Children and Students
Census figures show that since 2011, there has been a 20% increase in the number of children with impaired vision. This steep increase equates to 4,701 children of school-age (5-18 years) and highlights the need for a more structured and equipped educational system, which is well-positioned to support children and young adults to fulfil their potential across our educational systems.
In addition, there are extremely low levels of registration of students with vision impairment in higher education nationwide. Data from AHEAD shows that in 2017 / 2018, only 1.8% of students registering with a disability at third level (undergraduate and postgraduate) had a vision impairment.
Since 2013, this proportion has dropped, whilst the number of students registering with disabilities overall has increased. At 1.8%, students with impaired vision represent the second smallest category of students with a disability in third level education.
Our Cost of Sight Loss report found that:
- 75% to 80% of blindness is preventable.
- As the Irish population ages, the impact of vision loss will grow substantially in the future.
- Vision impairment and blindness are expected to cost more than €.2.5billion by 2020.
- Healthcare costs for the main eye diseases are €65.1 million and for blindness €3.7million per year.