The COVID-19 pandemic has bought with unprecedented challenges to those with vision impairment. Physical distancing and lockdown measures to curb the spread of infection poses unique challenges to routine ophthalmic care and time sensitive treatment.
The Vision Academy, representing leading international experts in ophthalmology and ageing in its commitment to supporting ophthalmologists caring for patients with retinal disease recently published Guidance for anti-VEGF intravitreal injections during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The article provides guidance for ophthalmologists on how to optimize care for patients while minimizing the risk of infection at this time. Measures include the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), scrupulous adherence to personal, facility, and instrument hygiene and disinfection protocols, pre-screening to identify symptomatic patients, and reducing the number of people in waiting rooms. Triaging patients according to medical needs and prioritizing of treatment over monitoring visits are also considerations.
The Vision Academy stressed the importance of communication with patients via letters or phone calls, in order to provide clear instructions on how to minimize exposure whilst undertaking crucial eye care services. According to the published guidelines clinicians must reassure patients and their families that safety and eye health are top priorities during the pandemic by explaining infection prevention protocols and safeguards of the clinic. More important is the instruction on how to reduce the risk of exposure during and between clinic visits, and advice on what to do should patients become aware of COVID-19 symptoms or deterioration of their vision.
The adaption and adjustment of clinical practice at this time is imperative to protect both patients and staff from potential exposure during this time of uncertainty. While the delivery of eye care has been changing amid the ongoing pandemic, patients with retinal disease should not neglect their vision health.
Be sure to visit the Vision Academy website where patient education materials supporting the communication on eye health during the COVID-19 pandemic are available including adaptable communication templates, infographic and video. Please contact IFA expert Dr. Juan Carlos Silva, a key contributor to the WHO World Report on Vision and a valued member of the DR Barometer Community for further information and recommendations in Vision Health Month.
Dr. Juan Carlos Silva Regional Advisor on Visual and Hearing Care
Dr. Silva has been working as the eye care regional Adviser for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Pan American Health Organization