Patients’ Perceptions of COVID-19: Too Risky For Seamless Eye Care

COVID-19 pandemic has significantly reduced the ability to receive timely eye care for several people. Patients fear getting contacted with the novel coronavirus which has resulted in interrupted care for those individuals who require in-person eye screenings to prevent vision loss from serious eye disorders. 

Research suggests that there have been numerous cancellations of routine eye examinations in the United States. There has been a startling trend of patients not going for eye screening deemed essential by their clinicians. 

While the cancellations of routine eye exams are not very harmful to patients in the long term, people having retinal disorders do need medical care for an age-related macular generation. Additionally, scientists have found that people with age-related macular degeneration or diabetic neuropathy are at significant risk for severe COVID-19 due to comorbidities and aging. 

Doctors do realize the significance of continuing care for such patients, however, what patients perceptions aren’t usually explored much. Treatment decisions, which are intended to provide patients with the best possible eye care, are done without accounting for patient-centered views on the risks of permanent vision loss and COVID-19 exposure. 

Based on this observation, researchers conducted a survey including an unverified telephone survey between April and May 2020, and a backdated medical record review held alongside survey administration from May 22, 2020, to August 18, 2020.

The patients delineated a random sample of people with age-related macular degeneration or diabetic neuropathy who had been carefully addressed with an intravitreal injection from January 6 to March 13, 2020, and were to undergo a second injection between March 13 and May 6, 2020.

348 patients agreed to participate in the survey. Its results indicated that 163 (47%) were highly concerned or moderately concerned about visual lapses due to missed treatments; 60% deemed that exposure to the novel coronavirus at the eye clinic was very unlikely/unlikely, 14% deemed exposure to be very likely/likely; 22% were heedless of follow-up care.

Among the high-risk patients for permanent vision loss because of decline in care, verbalized concerns regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their ability to receive timely eye care

The results of the survey showed that fear of COVID-19 virus exposure was closely associated with about four times increase in the chances of patient loss to follow-up. These findings support the possible significance of explicitly communicating infection-control precautions.

What Are Some Common Eye Emergencies?

Some common eye emergencies for which you’ll need to go to your healthcare provider include:

  • Painful eye
  • Redness of the eye
  • Trauma to the eye
  • Floaters in vision
  • Flashes of light
  • Sudden changes in vision

If you experience any of these symptoms, you are advised to consult your local doctor of optometry before seeking medical assistance in hospital emergency rooms. This will help minimize the burdens on already overwhelmed emergency departments and also reduce your risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus and infecting others. 

What Precautions You Can Take To Avoid Potential Risks During The Appointment?

Here is the list of precautions you need to take during your visit:

  • Continue to maintain a safe distance of six feet from others. Remember that a face mask isn’t a substitute for social distancing. 
  • While you are still at the doctor’s office, avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eye with unwashed hands.
  • Keep a sanitizer bottle with you at all times, and use it every time you touch frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, table surfaces, switchboards, etc. 
  • After you have come home from the doctor’s clinic, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.