Number of people with vision impairment in Ireland
Census 2016 shows there are 54,810 people in Ireland who are blind or vision impaired and the number is rising as the population ages.
Waiting lists for eye appointments
A large number of people are currently waiting for outpatient ophthalmic services. Ophthalmic services are now recognised as the fourth longest waitlist. Figures from June 2020 from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) outpatient data recorded that 43,455 people were waiting for outpatient ophthalmic services, the highest number of people recorded to date. This figure has grown by 3,012 people since January 2019. NCBI are campaigning for this to change.
The Census shows the level of labour force participation amongst people who are blind or vision impaired in Ireland is only 24.4%. This figure means less than 1 in 4 people with impaired vision are currently actively participating in the labour force. People with vision impairment have a 60% less chance of being in employment than the general population.
Census figures show since 2011 there has been a 20% increase in the number of children with vision impairment, which amounts to about 4,700 children of school-age (5-18 years). This trend 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.
There are extremely low levels of registration of students with vision impairment in higher education nationwide. Alarmingly, AHEAD (Association for Higher Education Access and Disability) found in 2017 / 2018, only 1.8% of students registering with a disability at third level (undergraduate and postgraduate) had a vision impairment, which represents the second smallest category of students with a disability in third level education.