Whanganui eye patients can expect to have their appointments delayed or rescheduled, due to staff shortages at Whanganui Hospital.

Whanganui District Health Board's chief medical officer Frank Rawlinson said the WDHB's full-time ophthalmologist is unable to work due to an injury - and this leaves the service with no medical staff.

Dr Rawlinson said Whanganui, like many other DHBs nationwide, is having difficulty recruiting ophthalmologists.

"[This is] despite our having put a great deal of effort into recruiting two full-time, permanent roles."

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Dr Rawlinson said a number of factors are putting pressure on ophthalmology services. There is a worldwide shortage of general ophthalmologists due to the service becoming sub-specialised. There's also a greater demand for ophthalmology services as the population ages.

"The WDHB's patient scheduling team will contact all patients with ophthalmology appointments to keep them informed of the situation," Dr Rawlinson said.