ICO Statement – Phased resumption of Services for Eye Care Patients during COVID-19

The longer term and knock-on effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our society in Ireland mean it will continue to be a challenging time for our healthcare workers, patients and for the wider population for some months to come.

As the HSE vaccine programme roll out continues, the focus now is on the resumption of care to patients while adapting to continued health and safety restrictions. Continuing levels of restrictions will be present for many months to come, and greater capacity limitations in clinics related to physical distancing and infection control measures. 

We understand this may be causing significant concern to the public and eye care patients who are looking to access ophthalmic services at this time. We wish to reassure the public and our patients that the phased and accelerated resumption of services is continuing and a system of triage care is in operation to prioritise those in need of care.

The ICO is reminding patients that if, you or any of your family members experience sudden vision loss or significant pain in your eye, to contact your eye doctor, GP or eye healthcare professional to seek medical advice.  

We are also urging patients to keep their appointments and attend as directed by your healthcare professional. Regular eye examinations are essential for maintaining healthy eyes and your vision, particularly as we age.   If you are aged over 50 or have a family history of eye disease, it is recommended to have a routine eye examination every 1 to 2 years to ensure early diagnosis of any significant eye disorder. 

Community ophthalmologists are seeing patients whose clinical need has been triaged as necessary in a safe environment.  All COVID-19 precautions are being taken and any patient or parent of a patient should contact their clinic as necessary.

The ICO continues to follow national guidance and direction instructed by the Department of Health, HSE and the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and all hospitals are acting in accordance with these guidelines in order to minimise the risk of infection spread. 

Our primary concern is for the welfare and safety of patients and our healthcare staff and we will continue to provide advice, care and support in this regard.

Further information and guidance on COVID-19 measures provided to the public from trusted, official sources are available on the our site here  

19th May 2021