Vision health 'costs €386m a year'

 

Vision impairment costs the State €386 million a year, according to a report prepared for National Council of the Blind in Ireland (NCBI).

The Cost of Sight Loss report, unveiled this morning by Minister for Health James Reilly, found almost 225,000 people in Ireland are living with low vision or sight loss.

Some €117 million is spent on health costs related to vision impairment and blindness and €269 million is lost through indirect costs including lost productivity, welfare payments and caregiver time, the report said.

This could rise to over 270,000 by 2020 and cost the State €449 million, the Deloitte Access Economics report found.

Costs could be reduced, the report found, through preventative methods, early detection and treatment of eye conditions.

It recommended free annual eye tests for people aged 10 years and older with diabetes, increased hospital funding to reduce cataract waiting lists and an education programme to increase the uptake of eye tests in people over 70 years old.

National Council chief executive Des Kenny said increasing costs could be countered through regular eye screening for the elderly, people with diabetes and other groups at risk of eye disease.