Ophthalmic emergency-room visits during the Covid-19 pandemic – a comparative study
This article was originally published here
BMC Ophthalmol. 2021 May 12;21(1):210. doi: 10.1186/s12886-021-01976-6.
BACKGROUND: The goal of this study is to compare ophthalmic emergency room (OER) visits during the Coronavirus disease-19 (Covid-19) pandemic to those during a control period.
METHODS: We compared all visits to the OER to Meir Medical Center in Israel, from March 15th to April 15th, 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic and government mandated quarantine, to the same period in 2019. Factors analyzed were patient demographics, chief complaints, referral patterns, exam findings, treatments given, hospitalizations and surgical interventions.
RESULTS: We included in this study 1311 visits of 1158 patients, 477 during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic and 834 during the same period in 2019. The demographic distribution (age, gender, and ethnicity) was similar between the two periods. LogMAR visual acuity at presentation was worse during the Covid-19 pandemic (0.42 ± 0.6 and 0.34 ± 0.5 in 2020 and 2019 respectively; p = 0.025) and the number of emergent surgeries was higher (3.7% in 2020 vs 1.8% in 2019, p = 0.026). In 2019 there was a higher likelihood of involvement of both segments of the eye (4.82% versus 1.2%, p < 0.01) and more diagnoses were given to each patient (1 ± 0.5 versus 0.93 ± 0.35, p = 0.001; During the Covid – 19 pandemic medications (both topical and systemic) were prescribed more often (1.22 ± 0.95 in 2020 and 0.84 ± 0.67 in 2019, p < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: OER visits were less frequent during the Covid – 19 pandemic as compared to 2019, though the demographics of the patients remained unchanged. Visits during the pandemic tended to be for more severe ocular conditions, with worse visual acuity at presentation and required more medical and surgical treatment which imply higher necessity of ocular evaluation. This analysis can aid healthcare resource management in similar scenarios in the future.