Mrs Hanby was diagnosed with a cataract last summer
Royal Navy widow Elaine Hanby, 48, today said it was "absurd" she could have to travel to Europe because of lengthy waits in Scotland.
Mrs Hanby, whose husband died in a tragic road accident, was diagnosed with a cataract in August last year.
The mother of Nairn, Inverness-shire, was referred by her optician to Raigmore Hospital.
However she was left to shocked when she was advised it would take 12 months to meet a consultant and up to 18 months before having minor surgery.
This is despite a Scottish Government target of 18 weeks of a referral.
The former health worker wrote to Health secretary Shona Robison seeking information about the prospect of treatment on the Continent.
The NHS told Mrs Hanby that she would have to wait 18 months before she could have the 15 procedure
Her plight was raised with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon by Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale who warned it was another example of "system breakdown" in the NHS.
It’s clear the NHS doesn’t have the money it needs and the staff are really hard pressed
Mrs Hanby yesterday said: "I spoke to a nurse who told me it would be 12 months – not 12 months to get the treatment done, but just to get on the waiting list. She said it could be up to 18 months to get it done.
"Now this is a 15-minute procedure. Is this waiting time standard? It’s clear the NHS doesn’t have the money it needs and the staff are really hard pressed.
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"I’m relatively young so the effect of the cataract isn’t as it bad as it might be for someone, say, in their 60s.
"But it has certainly made it more difficult to carry out my work and drive in the dark.
"It’s not safe anymore – I struggle to read road signs and I just don’t want to take the risk."
Her husband Chief Petty Officer Kevin Hanby died aged 41 in a road crash in November 2006 while riding his motorbike to work at the Maritime Warfare Centre in Southwick, West Sussex.
Mrs Hanby, who has two teen-aged children, is the chairwoman of Royal Navy and Royal Marines Widows' Association.
Navy veteran Kevin Hanby was tragically killed in a road accident
She inquired about getting treatment at the Golden Jubilee in Glasgow but told her health board NHS Highland no longer send patients there.
Mrs Hanby is now looking to travel to overseas but added: "I suppose I could take the money from the NHS in Scotland and take it to Europe.
"It wouldn’t cost much to do it – you can fly across for £100 on EasyJet. But it just seems absurd. Is every patient facing this?
"This must impact thousands of people – it is unacceptable."
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Challenging the First Minister Ms Dudgale said: “The waiting time for Elaine Hanby’s cataract operation is shocking.
"And it is astounding that Mrs Hanby is being forced to consider going to Europe for treatment because she cannot get seen in her local hospital in Inverness."
Ms Sturgeon said there is “more work to be done” on the NHS, but waiting times are lower today than when the SNP took office.
“We are committed to further increasing investment but also crucially carrying out the reforms in our NHS to make sure the NHS can cope with the pressures on it.”
Mrs Hanby said it wouldn't cost her much to fly over to Europe for the operation
The First Minister said the Government is determined to work with the NHS to drive down waiting times.
NHS Highland said it was struggling to fill vacant posts within its ophthalmology department which "had contributed to the current waiting time".
A spokesman said this stood at nine-months from referral to cataract assessment.
He added: "We are sorry Mrs Hanby is unhappy and would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with her directly.
"We would encourage her to contact our feedback team and we will look into the case in more detail."