Glaucoma Care during COVID-19
Glaucoma, the silent thief of the sight, is one of the most common causes of irreversible blindness worldwide. The management includes usage of drops (please DONT forget time timings & care needed while instillation), regular follow-up with our Glaucoma specialist for eye pressure checks & visual field testing. With the COVId-19 pandemic engulfing most of the developed & developing countries, many countries have announced a lock-down, hoping that this would be able to contain the virus spread.
Most Glaucoma patients are in their 6th decade, the age where COVID-19 morbidity is also worse (see China and Italy data). Visiting any healthcare facility for any chronic illness, especially for this age-group has therefore been advised against. All the healthcare focus and resources have shifted towards providing the healthcare for COVID-19 affected patients. In order to prevent the spread of infection & more importantly conserve the limited healthcare resources (both in terms of manpower and PPE), most of the Ophthalmology professional bodies worldwide are discouraging Ophthalmologists for routine outpatient consults and elective procedures, thus we all must understand that routine eye care might get delayed.
While indoors, what you can do as a Glaucoma patient is to:
· Look at the brighter side of the LOCKDOWN, follow the eye drops regimen as strictly as possible ( positives: the flexi work from home schedule, no hassle to carry the drops, ease of cold chain maintenance)
· Note down any points that you would like to share with your treating glaucoma specialist, so that it gives you an ease of quick sharing whenever possible on a digital platform
· Keep your drops well stocked ( a 3 month supply is advisable)
Do connect with your eye doctor if you have
· sudden blurring or loss of vision
· Sudden onset flashes or floaters
· Sudden onset severe redness and discharge
· Sudden onset pain in the eyes and severe headache
Ophthalmology tele-consults can be done by sharing digital picture of the your eye with your treating ophthalmologist using platforms such as Whatsapp, after obtaining mutual consent (such interactions should be exempt from medicolegal implications looking at the COVID -19 emergency situation)
Special care if a hospital visit is unavoidable
· Carefully re-assess if the hospital visit is needed
· Pre-book an appointment and reconfirm availability of an ophthalmologist
· Use PPE
· Use sanitizer
· You may have to wait, & follow social distancing advisory
· You may need to fill a form/answer a few questions pertaining to prevailing COVID-19 situation before you see you ophthalmologist
· Wait time may be more, especially if the healthcare facility if serving other medical emergencies also.
· The Ophthalmologist might skip the full eye check-up, and curtail it to only those steps that are necessary
· The Ophthalmologist will be using some barrier mount on the slit-lamp and other imaging devices
· Remember to ask all relevant questions w.r.t to the duration and the tapering of treatment, so that follow-up visits are avoided.
Finally, let’s remember that the entire world is facing this crisis, with the medical fraternity being at the forefront: so trust your doctor, if he or she (based on the telephonic conversation) is telling you to avoid the hospital visit.
Trust me, the best part of GLAUCOMA is NOTHING happens overnight, so delaying your visit by few weeks may be not have any long term repercussion. Last thing one would want is to succumb to the deadly COVID-19, and lose life. And most certainly LIFE gets priority over SIGHT during such an emergency.
NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN
· Hand wash and hand hygiene
· Avoid touching your eyes
· Take care of your screen time (binge watching of Netflix, Amazon Prime, may precipitate eye strain and dry eyes)
STAY HOME STAY SAFE!!
Dr Parul Sony,
Director, Complete Eye Care