Ophthalmic procedures in the US expected to take a hit due to COVID-19, says GlobalData

Estimates show that 94.1% of ophthalmic procedures performed in the US are elective, while 5.9% are essential. The top essential procedures include the repair of eyelid lacerations, canthotomy, repair of ruptured eyeballs, and sutures of corneal lacerations. The ophthalmic procedures are likely to decrease as they have high chances of transmitting the COVID-19 disease from the patients to the healthcare professionals, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Eric Chapman, Medical Devices Analyst at GlobalData, says: “In general, these procedures are conducted for sight-threatening conditions, tumors, retinal detachment, ocular trauma, hemorrhage, glaucoma, orbital cellulitis, and lens complications. Of the 94.1% procedures that are elective, the top ten procedures account for 96.5% of the total volume and include extraction of the lens, eyelid operations and injection of therapeutic agents into parts of the eye”.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology and American College of Surgeons recommend that ophthalmologists treat only urgent or emergency cases, including both surgical and office-based care. Ophthalmologists should use using slit-lamp barriers or shields and disposable tonometer tips while checking intraocular pressure, since COVID-19 patients with conjunctivitis are known to shed viral particles through their tears.

Chapman concludes: “GlobalData expects a significant decline in the number of ophthalmic procedures, since most are considered to be elective. Furthermore, these procedures will take longer to resume since patients have a higher risk of potentially transmitting COVID-19 to healthcare professionals. Procedures performed for urgent cases should be done in sterilized operating rooms with adequate PPE available for healthcare staff.

“GlobalData expects procedure volumes to return to pre-COVID-19 levels in about six months to one year, following the decline of new COVID-19 cases to levels that are manageable within the healthcare system, currently estimated to be about 2.0 cases per 100,000.”

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