Our Ophthalmology Technology Summit Tier I Sponsor, Aerie Pharmaceuticals, Inc., surveyed 225 eye care professionals (ECPs), predominantly ophthalmologists, from across the country to assess the early impact of the COVID-19 crisis on glaucoma care. One of the most striking findings was that 0% of practices reported operating "business as usual."
As public health measures shuttered most of the U.S. economy, Aerie Pharmaceuticals, Inc. surveyed 225 eye care professionals (ECPs), predominantly ophthalmologists, from across the country to assess the early impact of the COVID-19 crisis on glaucoma care.
During the timeframe of the survey (March 26 - April 10, 2020), a large majority of respondents (82%) reported that their offices remained open in some capacity. However, these practices had implemented a variety of measures to comply with state and national restrictions, as well as initial recommendations issued by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) on March 19.
More than three-quarters (78%) were limiting in-patient visits to emergent or urgent cases, while some continued to see patients with uncontrolled or unstable glaucoma. Others were conducting intraocular pressure (IOP) testing but not Humphrey Visual Field (HVF) examinations. Criteria including the severity of glaucoma and patient age were being applied to determine whether patients should come into the office or be rescheduled.
Facing a steep decline in patient visits, 66% of practices reported reducing their office staff and more than half (53%) had limited their hours of operation.
Five additional risk mitigation strategies were also frequently reported: Cancellation of elective surgery (88%); increasing the time between patient visits (80%); writing 90-day prescriptions more often (45%); using telehealth tools to interact with patients (41%); and recommending mail order/prescription delivery options (28%).
With practices slowly re-opening, many issues remain, from adjustments to the glaucoma examination and office protocols to the availability and role of COVID-19 screening. From this highly fluid situation, permanent changes to glaucoma patient care may emerge.
Adapted from the LinkedIn article “COVID-19: A Pandemic’s Initial Impact on Glaucoma Care in the U.S.” by Richard A. Lewis, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Aerie Pharmaceuticals, Inc. April 27, 2020.