Concerns have been raised over “spiralling” waiting times being suffered by patients who need treatment for deteriorating eye conditions.

New figures show almost 40% of new ophthalmology outpatients in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which covers the local area, have had to wait more than 16 weeks.

Campaigners at Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans are demanding action to tackle the problem and have stressed that those affected “don’t have the time to wait.”

Craig Spalding, chief executive of the two sister charities, said: “We are calling on the Scottish Government to put a plan in place to tackle the spiralling ophthalmology waiting lists.

“These new figures show that thousands of patients with eye conditions are now waiting over 16 weeks. We are greatly concerned about the impact this is having mentally on people with visual impairment and the worsening of existing conditions which will occur if treatment is not received.

“We know the NHS is under a lot of pressure but treatment within appropriate timescales is essential for many eye conditions.

“Our community and wellbeing staff have reported many instances where our service users have told them their sight has worsened due to the delays, with some saying it’s like their life has been placed on hold due to having to give up work.”

Latest figures from Public Health Scotland show that, out of 9,536 new ophthalmology outpatients seen in Greater Glasgow and Clyde between the start of October and the end of December, 3,612 had to wait more than 16 weeks and 3,687 had to wait more than 12 weeks.

Mr Spalding added: “People with deteriorating eye conditions just don’t have the time to wait. If ophthalmology waiting times are not improved, they face the very real prospect of permanent damage.

“We welcome any movement from the Scottish Government towards tackling this.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We continue to work with NHS boards to maximise capacity and reduce the length of time people wait for appointments and treatment.

“The NHS recovery plan, backed by more than £1billion of additional investment, sets out how we will increase NHS capacity as quickly as possible.

“Four national treatment centres will open this year, providing significant additional protected capacity for orthopaedic, ophthalmic and diagnostic capacity.”

A spokesperson for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said staff at the health board were facing increased pressures but remained committed to providing the best possible care for patients.

They added: “Our staff continue to work tirelessly to ensure all emergency treatment and urgent case treatment continues and we review routine appointments and procedures daily in relation to ophthalmology cases, with a view to progressing as many cases as possible under the current pressures. These are prioritised by clinical need.

“We understand how important this is to our patients and while we are facing significant challenges, we are doing everything we can to maintain this approach. We apologise to any patient who has had their surgery or appointment delayed due to these circumstances.”