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Eye Damage Might Be a Legacy of COVID-19 Pandemic

Many patients did not receive needed care during lockdown.

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Eye problems could prove to be a lasting effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, some doctors say.

That’s not because of the coronavirus itself, but because people put off eyecare during the shutdown, U.S. News reports.

Emergency treatment and urgent care for eye problems were generally available, but in many states, routine eyecare wasn’t. And in borderline cases, many patients stayed home in order to avoid catching the virus.

Conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic eye diseases are of particular concern. Doctors note that chronic diseases need ongoing care and management.

“In ophthalmology, the decision to skip or delay treatment rarely results in a life-or-death type of scenario,” said Dr. Kenneth Neufeld, an ophthalmologist and oculoplastic surgeon near Atlanta. “But it can certainly lead to permanent vision damage or even blindness.”

Research by Strata Decision examind patient counters for 200 hospitals across 40 states during a two-week period in March and April, U.S. News notes. Patients encounters for glaucoma decreased 88 percent compared with the same period in 2019.

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Encounters for cataracts, meanwhile, dropped 97 percent.

Dr. Ruth Williams, an ophthalmologist specializing in glaucoma, was “amazed to see how many people had developed serious eye problems” once her office near Chicago reopened.

Read more at U.S. News

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at [email protected].

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