As the pandemic spreads, elective surgery and routine office visits are being cancelled or postponed.
How will this affect ophthalmologists, optometrists and you?
For eye doctors, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that we stop office visits for “routine” eye care: as examples, routine follow ups, glasses prescription, etc.
The AAO is recommending that ophthalmologists restrict office hours to those patients with urgent and emergent conditions. An example would be sudden loss of vision, pain or retinal detachment.
Contact your own doctor to determine if you should keep a pre-existing appointment or if you are having questions or concerns about your own vision.
The American Hospital Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended elective and non-urgent surgical procedures be cancelled or postponed. As of this writing, there is no national mandate, but do check with your doctor if you are or were planning to have surgery.
What is elective surgery? Examples include hip and knee replacements, plastic surgery and, even, cataract surgery.
Not all eye surgery would be cancelled. As a retina specialist, I’ll be cancelling surgeries for epiretinal membranes and macular holes, but will need to continue emergency surgery for retinal detachments.
Why are we restricting patient care and cancelling surgery?
The goal of limiting patient care in our offices is to reduce the chances of healthy people becoming exposed to the virus. It is an effort to protect patients, office staff and healthcare providers. It allows patients with active problems to receive care during this crisis.
The postponement of elective surgical procedures also reduces exposure of healthy individuals, but also preserves valuable and limited healthcare resources. For instance, cancellation of elective surgery preserves hospital beds and staff for those who may have significant illness and need care. As an example, our outpatient surgical center can now send our nurses and aides to the main hospital and ER where they may be needed.
Keep in mind that patients will still need chemotherapy, suffer heart attacks and strokes, sustain accidents in addition to contracting coronavirus.
Both these measures will aid in “flattening the curve.”