Cataracts are one of the leading causes of preventable blindness in the world today.
And, as expected, there are many features to the complex world of cataract surgery.
These facts did not change after the COVID-19 pandemic began. Doctors were faced with a dilemma:
Their patients needed surgery and surgeons needed to find a safe way to provide treatment, Under the Big Top
without encouraging the spread of infection (coronavirus or otherwise) and continue the fight against preventable blindness ลาวสามัคคี.
Challenges in entering the tent Accessibility of care is key in this fight. Many people Under the Big Top
in need of surgery found their normal movements affected by the outbreak of COVID-19. Even simply traveling to the doctor became a risk.
The means by which patients would normally access care were compromised, though the desire to receive care remained.
Dr. Karan Bhatia, head of Cornea Services at Sitapur Eye Hospital in India, explained:
“I work in a charitable hospital in North India where a majority of the patients are poor and from rural backgrounds.
The pandemic has definitely affected the practice.
This is not due to the fear of getting infected with COVID, but due to lack of public transportation for these poor and needy patients. So, they travel by bus. Hence, every visit increases the risk of exposure to COVID.”
However, many people still actively pursued medical treatment for cataract despite infection risks. Dr. Bhatia said that patients who require surgery have rarely turned down the service.
The importance of surgery to cataract patients remained consistent even during the pandemic.
On the other hand, Dr. Harvey Uy, a clinical associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of the Philippines
and medical director at Peregrine Eye and Laser Institute in Makati, has had a different experience.
“The pandemic has been an epic disaster for patients and practices,” Dr. Uy shared. “While many patients stayed away from clinics due to fear of contracting COVID-19
during their consultation or surgeries, others declined elective surgeries due to economic concerns and chose to save money for basic necessities, such as food.
Lastly, mobility restrictions prevented even those patients desiring treatment from traveling to their doctor’s place of practice.”
Indeed, many patients were forced to consider the risk of exposure when seeking treatment, in addition to their own challenges with optical health.
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