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FODO Ireland welcomes restoration and expansion of Optical Treatment Benefit Scheme in Budget 2017

The Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians (FODO) Ireland warmly welcomed announcements about the Treatment Benefit Scheme in yesterday’s Budget, in particular the restoration of free spectacle provision or contribution towards spectacles and the inclusion of self-employed workers, for the first time, into the Scheme.

Ann BlackmoreAnn Blackmore, Director of Policy and Strategy at FODO Ireland, said “FODO Ireland is delighted that the Minister has responded positively to our calls for the restoration of optical benefits and for bringing self-employed workers into the Treatment Benefit Scheme. This is a very positive move which will enable proper access to sight testing and treatments for working people.

The Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar TD, in announcing the changes to the Scheme yesterday said that the ‘expansion of the Scheme means that the range of optical treatments will benefit up to 2.5 million people’.

Since 2010, beneficiaries of the Scheme who received a sight test were not entitled to receive free glasses or optical vouchers as a result of cuts made in the 2009 Budget. FODO Ireland has campaigned to persuade the Government of the importance of restoring the provision for dispensing spectacles or contribution towards spectacles to ensure that patients would receive the help they needed to correct any problems with their sight. Expanding the benefits of the Scheme to the self-employed was also a key component of the FODO Ireland pre-Budget submission.

Under the terms of the restoration, patients who are tested and who require glasses can be provided with free glasses or a contribution (up to €42) towards the cost of glasses depending on their choice. The provisions for dispensing spectacles or contribution towards spectacles will take effect from October 2017.From March of next year, self-employed people, including farmers, who make category S PRSI payments, will be able to avail of the same benefits as all other beneficiaries of the scheme.