Eye doctors will likely be asked to see only patients with urgent and emergent conditions. Retinal diseases often require emergent or urgent treatment.
Suggestions have been made to limit office visits to those patients with only urgent and emergency conditions. In addition, hospitals have been canceling elective surgery and procedures to a later date. Both measures are intended to protect healthy individuals from unnecessary exposure to the virus and to preserve healthcare resources.
Retinal specialists treat “urgent” and “emergent” on a daily basis. Here’s a short list of what a retina specialist treats on a daily basis.
Disclaimer: This article reflects my opinion only. Your own doctor may have a different opinion. Please check with your doctor if you have questions or if you are having problems with your vision. In my opinion, any condition which causes a change in vision or pain should warrant an urgent visit to your doctor….call your doctor.N. Moinfar, M.D.
Diabetic retinopathy is the disease diabetes causes in the eye. Most patients will develop some degree of diabetic retinopathy in their lifetime, and because of this, patients need to be seen regularly whether there are changes in their vision or not.
If there are no acute changes in vision since last visit, then there is probably no urgency to get an examination, though this may not be true in patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy. You may call your doctor and discuss how long you can wait after the pandemic is over.
Diabetes can cause sudden loss of vision due to a vitreous hemorrhage. Your doctor may want to see you quickly.
New Onset Floaters
Usually new onset floaters are due to a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). A PVD can cause a retinal tear which can be diagnosed only by prompt examination and, therefore, new onset floaters should be deemed urgent. Retinal tears can cause a retinal detachment, hence, the concern.
Patients with macular degeneration can develop loss of central vision and/or distortion. Many patients self monitor at home with the aid of an Amsler grid, a simple way to look for new distortion in their vision. If you notice new loss of vision and/or worsening distortion, especially if you are receiving anit-VEGF injections, I would recommend you call your doctor for an urgent evaluation.
Complications from Cataract Surgery
Complications from cataract surgery are usually seen by a retina specialist within a few days of occurrence. Since cataract surgery is deemed elective, there should not be any complications during the pandemic as cataract surgery is being rescheduled to preserve hospital resources and decrease exposure of healthy people to the virus.
Retinal detachments can be an emergency, especially if there is progressive loss of vision, but the central vision is spared. The goal of retinal detachment surgery is to diagnose and perform surgery before the central vision is affected.
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