Results of a survey among ophthalmologists indicate that patients are receiving fewer examinations — with worsening glaucoma, says S. Fabian Lerner, MD, speaking at the Glaucoma 360 New Horizons Forum.
This article was eviewed by S. Fabian Lerner, MD
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has changed worldwide medical care dramatically.
Outcomes associated with every aspect of the virus — such as the endpoint of the pandemic, mortality and morbidity, vaccine efficacy and duration, economic impact, psychological consequences, and the impact on the health care system as a whole and glaucoma care specifically — remain uncertain.
Recommendations for continuing care of patients in a general ophthalmology setting include triaging, reducing the number of daily appointments, allowing only the patient and/or 1 caregiver to enter the practice when possible, and using a slit-lamp breath shield, gloves, and personal protective equipment (PPE), according to S. Fabian Lerner, MD, professor and head of Ophthalmology at the University Favaloro, School of Medical Sciences, Fundación para el Estudio del Glaucoma in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Specifically for glaucoma, Dr. Lerner cited concerns expressed about which tonometers, gonioscopic lenses, and perimeters are the safest; in addition, some surgical procedures may require more examinations than others.
To gather information to evaluate the status of patient evaluations, a survey was sent in December to the members of the Latin American Glaucoma Society (LAGS).
Sixty key opinion leaders (KOLs) from Latin America were contacted and of these, 47 ophthalmologists completed the survey for a response rate of 78.3%.
The responders represented practices in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru. The responses were able to shed light on how the group of responders are handling the pandemic in their countries.
Here are the highlights:
“Generally, the work flow is less now and following the pandemic longer office hours may be needed,” Lerner said. “Most physicians are triaging. About 50% use telemedicine to evaluate patients.”
Lerner concluded that many physicians are now using other tonometers, such as the Tonopen or rebound tonometry; and a third each use less gonioscopy and perimetry.
“More patients have worse glaucoma than before the pandemic onset,” he said. “About 45% of surgeons require a preoperative PCR test, and 35% have changed surgical indications based on less frequent controls.”
See more Glaucoma 360 coverage
S. Fabian Lerner, MD
Dr. Lerner is a consultant to Alcon, Allergan, Glaukos, Iridex, and Sidus.