Who is entitled to apply to IRISH EYES IRELAND for help?
Applications are only accepted from those people who:
Are Irish Citizens
Are resident in the Republic of Ireland
Have a PPS number
Have a suspected or diagnosed cataract.
Are able to obtain a referral letter from either their GP or a qualified Optometrist indicating a need for potential cataract treatment.
Are classed as able to travel for treatment.
Remember that you will need to either have an Irish passport or be able to apply for one in order to travel to Holland.
Will I have to pay the surgeon or clinic any money?
No. Irish Eyes Irelandwill pay all the fees relating to your operation.
Why can’t I have this operation FREE in Ireland?
You can. You just have to wait your turn which seems to be at least two years. We have some applicants who have already waited over 5 years.
So, I have the right to get this surgery abroad?
Yes. You just have to follow the HSE guidelines and follow the same pathway for treatment as you would in Ireland. We take care of your application and guide you.
How can you do it for free?
We are a Private Foundation and we use our own money. We ask you to assist us in reclaiming the cost of your surgery under the 2011 Cross Border Directive. The HSE will not give a full refund but Irish Eyes Ireland will make up the differance. You pay nothing towards the cost of surgery.
What is the Cross Border Directive?
The Directive is an agreement that allows all European Citizens to avail themselves of Healthcare in another EU country. Under the Directive the treatment has to be paid for “up front” and then you have to go through a reimbursement application process.
So I am clear, do I have to pay “up front” and then wait for the money back?
No. Irish Eyes Ireland pays the surgeon and the Clinic and we claim the money back on your Behalf.
What about medication costs?
We will ask the surgeon in Holland to send a prescription to your GP in Ireland so he can arrange to give you a valid Irish prescription and you can then get your eye drops before you leave Ireland. If you have a medical card this will only cost you €2.50 an item. Make sure you collect them in Ireland. They are much more expensive in Holland!
Are flights to Amsterdam expensive?
No. In our experience, it is usually possible to book a return flight to Amsterdam for less than €100.
Aer Lingus, Ryanair, KLM, Flybe and others offer cheap flights. Please make sure that your arrival in Amsterdam leaves you time to get to the clinic for your appointment. (allow an hour, to be safe).
What does the Admin department at IRISH EYES IRELAND do?
Everyone involved with IEI is a volunteer, no one is paid. Many have already had their cataracts treated in Holland. The volunteers assist applicants wherever they can. They collate the documents needed to ensure that you are eligible for FREE surgery and make the arrangements for surgery at a convenient time for you. They are there to help.
They Liaise with you, your GP, the optometrist and the surgeon to ensure that you get the treatment you need.
They already know what documents are needed, how to get the cheapest flights and can even tell you about their experiences making the journey!
How can I be sure that the clinic is fully licensed and that the surgeons are qualified?
Well, firstly. The HSE would only allow us to use the very best and registered hospitals and clinics.
Secondly, Irish Eyes Ireland has reached an agreement with Eyescan to take care of all the applicants from Ireland who have opted for surgery in Holland.
We ask that you check out their website. www.eyescan.nl. Eyescan is one of the largest chains of highly specialised clinics/private Hospitals in Holland. They have the highest patient rating of any clinic and consistently have the lowest rates of complication.
I didn´t realise that there could be complications. Is that common?
No. The risk of serious complications developing as a result of cataract surgery is very low. Most common complications are treatable and do not have a long-term impact on your vision. The surgeon will discuss this with you before you make a final decision.
To reassure you, last year, after an annual audit Eyescan in Amstelveen, the treatment centre where you will be treated,reported that there had been NO surgical complications.
Is the treatment painful?
No. Your eye is anaesthetised. You may feel a little discomfort during your surgery and your eye may feel a little gritty and watery for a few hours after. The clinical staff are there at all times to monitor you.
I know I have cataracts, the optician told me. What do I do to get this free treatment?
If you were seen by an Optometrist, then they have the skills to diagnose eye conditions. This is a real help to the Dutch surgeon as we get a clear report on what to expect. If they do not know about our organization, they will refer you to your GP. The LONG wait starts. NOW, they are able to refer you directly to the Surgeon abroad. At this point contact our Administration department and we will start to process you towards FREE surgery.
If you are already on that waiting list, just contact us and we will arrange everything. You could be operated on within 4 weeks.
I have already seen my G.P. and he has referred me to the local Hospital. Now what do I do?
Just contact us. We will liaise with the GP and probably arrange to have your eyes examined to ensure that you are operable. Once we have this confirmation we will arrange a referral letter and offer you a choice of appointments.
Now what happens?
There will be an assessment of all the information provided by your G.P. the Optometrist and the Surgeon in Holland. The Surgeon needs the confirmation from your doctor that your general health is good and confirmation from the optometrist that he believes that an operable cataract exists.
If this assessment indicates that you are a suitable candidate for cataract surgery then you will be offered an appointment at the clinic in Holland where a full eye examination will be undertaken, the appropriate lens to be used determined and you will meet your Surgeon.
Who arranges my flight to Holland?
Once the medical professionals have confirmed that you are suitable for surgery, we agree a date with yourself and the Clinic and you can book the flight. You must send us the Flight Confirmation email so we can be sure that you are coming.
There is a bus that takes you the short journey from the airport to the clinic. The cost is around 5 euros and it takes less than 20 minutes.
Do the staff speak English?
Yes. Almost everyone within the Eyescan organisation understands English.
The Surgeons have all been employed at some point in their career by the UK NHS.
How long will I be away from home?
Irish Eyes Ireland, the Health Service Executive and Eyescan Eyecare Organisation will only support this Cross Border “package” if patient care is at the forefront of these arrangements.
To ensure that every precaution is taken and that your interests are protected you will be assessed, treated and your recovery monitored by the Dutch Medical team for three days.
On the first day you will be assessed by the Surgeon and have all your questions answered.
Should you agree to proceed then you will stay overnight to allow you to rest before surgery.
It is considered good practice on the second day to ask you again before you are admitted that you are happy to proceed. If you are happy, then you will be admitted.
After you have recovered from the procedure you will remain overnight.
On the third day you will be checked and assuming all is in order, you will be discharged by the surgeon and it’s off to the airport and back home to Ireland.
Those a little more adventurous might choose to stay a few days and enjoy Amsterdam and that improved eyesight before going home! It’s up to you.
So who pays for all this?
Irish Eyes Ireland. Let it be clear, we pay ALL the above except your flights. At no time will you be asked for money by the hospital or doctors.
What happens when I get home?
We will arrange a review with a Local Fully qualified Optometrist who will examine the eye and check all is ok. It is a good idea to revisit your GP and update him.
What if there are complications?
This is very, very, rare. However, in an emergency, Ireland has an excellent A&E service where you will be given all the care needed. You will also be given the name of a local Optometrist who will offer advise.
Remember, the hospital and your Surgeon in Holland is only a phone call away. If you have any concerns, just call.
I have cataracts in both eyes can I get them both done at the same time?
No. It is considered good clinical practice to only operate on one eye at a time. If you choose to proceed with the second procedure we will happily make all the arrangements for you to revisit the Hospital in a few months time. Again, Irish Eyes Ireland will meet all the costs of this second procedure.
I am a little nervous at travelling alone. Can I bring a companion?
Of course. The rooms in Holland are large and of a very high standard and will easily accommodate two people.
So will there be a charge for my companion to share my room?
There is a small charge of €60 for their accommodation for two nights. The Foundation covers the cost of breakfast for you and your companion. All other food, beverages and travelling costs are not included in our “package”.
When can I get back to work?
Depending on your job, you need to take 2 to 7 days off work, especially if that work is dusty.
So, is Irish Eyes Ireland a Charity?
The Irish Eyes Ireland Foundation LLC is a Private Foundation Registered in the United States of America. Registration No. 2018-000831980. It aims to generate a profit and use that profit as it sees fit.
The Foundation is endowed with funds from Private Individuals, who are members of The Foundation. It does not accept any donations from the Public. The Foundation is NOT a Registered Charity in Ireland nor in the USA. The objects of the Foundation, amongst other things, is to offer help to Irish Citizens. It keeps its “eyes” on the interests of Irish people, both in the USA and Ireland. Some of its activities generate a profit available for distribution at the discretion of the members. Some of these profits will be used to assist Irish Citizens, some to assist American politicians who support a fair immigration policy for Irish people. On dissolution of the Foundation and after all liabilities are satisfied, any funds available will be returned to the members.
Got a question?
Please submit the form below to ask us your question about our cataract surgery. We will contact you with an answer as soon as possible.