Aucklanders losing sight amid backlog of eye patients - report

South Aucklanders are losing their sight because eye treatment waiting lists are so long, a report reveals.

Thousands have had eye conditions left untreated thanks to a massive backlog of people suffering from them and a lack of staff to diagnose them, according to RNZ.

Counties Manukau ophthalmology department has seen the number of visitors increase by more than 250 percent.

More than 14,000 people are overdue for follow-up eye appointments throughout New Zealand, according to Ministry of Health figures obtained by RNZ.

Nearly 3000 of those had been waiting for twice as long as they were meant to.

Dr Simon Dean, who heads up the Counties Manukau ophthalmology department, says they are making some progress at reducing the number of people on the waitlist.

"At Auckland there has been some investment in staffing and they've now got no people overdue for their follow-ups, whereas we've still got just around 4000," he told RNZ.

"A couple of months ago that was 5000 so we are tracking in the right direction but that's a lot of people where we just don't know if they're safe or not."

In late 2016, the Southland District Health Board revealed it had to postpone 4600 eye appointments because of an influx of people suffering chronic sight-threatening diseases.

The DHB had to contact and apologise to patients whose eyesight has deteriorated during the period of the delay.


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