Experts Urge People Not To Avoid Eye Clinics

At Least 10,000 People are at Risk of Suffering Irreversible Damage to their Sight because of Missed Care during Lockdown, Experts say.

The UK Ophthalmology Alliance and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists have stated that at least 10,000 people have missed out on care essential eye care in England, Wales and Scotland, putting them at risk of irreversible damage. Only 10% of the most urgent procedures are going ahead and fears about coronavirus mean many of those patients are not attending their appointments. Specialists warn that a surge in the number of people with sight loss could become “another cost of the pandemic”.

The risk is highest for people with conditions like Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy and retinal detachment. Patients with these conditions need continued treatment to preserve their eyesight. Surgery is needed to repair retinal detachment, while those with Macular Degeneration and Diabetes-related Retinopathy require monthly injections in order to prevent their sight deteriorating and potentially losing their sight completely.

Specialists from the Royal College of Ophthalmologists found that in some areas, up to 50% of patients were not attending the most urgent appointments – and say overall there has been at least 30% non-attendance for procedures in March and April, and 20% in May in England.

Over the three months of lockdown, there have been 1,500 fewer operations for retinal detachment and at least 8,000 fewer people receiving injections for AMD. Patients are very concerned as they find their vision changing or deteriorating in this period but they and they loved ones fear attending an hospital setting for treatment.

Retina International is concerned that the UK example is indicative of similar situations globally. We have already seen from data out of AAO in the United States that critical appointments are being missed and there is a negative impact in those in need of care and treatment.

Eye Clinics are currently working to ensure that all requirements are in place for a safe visit. Eye care professionals have reiterated that if a patient is asked to go to their clinic at this time then it’s because it’s really important and you are at risk of permanent harm. Retina International urges patients to contact their Eye Doctor should they have concerns about their vision.

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