Poor referrals leave cataract patients languishing for years

A review shows waiting list times are far longer than official figures indicate

Patients with cataracts are spending years on elective surgery waiting lists because of poorly targeted referrals, ophthalmologists say.

A review of 400 cataract referrals to a Sydney public hospital eye clinic found that two-thirds of patients had not had an initial assessment for surgery within one year.

However, half the patients referred to the eye clinic did not proceed to surgery, mostly because they had insignificant cataracts or no visual problems, noted the researchers from the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney.

They said waiting times for elective cataract surgery were far longer than indicated by official figures, which only covered waiting times between ophthalmic assessment and surgery.

The reality was an inefficient “wait-for-wait” system in which most patients were