Patient Concerns Regarding Suspended Ophthalmic Care Due to COVID-19
This article was originally published here
J Glaucoma. 2021 May 12. doi: 10.1097/IJG.0000000000001877. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: The temporary cessation and profound changes in ophthalmic care delivery that occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have yet to be fully understood. Our objective is to assess patients’ self-reported impact of healthcare lockdown measures on their fears and anxieties during the crisis period of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City.
METHODS: We conducted a digital, self-reported, patient care survey distributed by electronic mail (e-mail) at Columbia University’s department of ophthalmology outpatient faculty practice. Inclusion criteria were age greater than or equal to 18 years, a diagnosis of either retinal disease or glaucoma and a cancelled or rescheduled ophthalmology established patient appointment during the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. Patients without an e-mail address listed in their electronic medical record were excluded. The survey occurred between March 2, 2020 to May 30, 2o2o. Primary measures were survey responses to assess key areas of patient anxiety or concern during the pandemic including safety of care delivery in a COVID pandemic, difficulties contacting or being seen by their ophthalmologist, concern of vision loss or disease progression, and concern over missed or access to treatments. Secondary measures were correlating survey response to factors such as: visual acuity, intraocular pressure (IOP), diagnosis, disease severity, follow up urgency, recent treatments and diagnostic testing data.
RESULTS: Of the 2,594 surveys sent out, 510 (19.66%) were completed. Over 95% of patients were at least as concerned as in normal circumstances about their ocular health during the peak of the pandemic. 76% of respondents were more concerned than normal that they could not be seen by their ophthalmologist soon enough. Increased concern over ocular health, disease progression and access to care all showed positive correlations (P<0.05) with worse disease severity as measured with testing such as visual fields and optical coherence tomography. Additionally, 55% of patients were afraid of contracting COVID-19 during an office visit.
CONCLUSION AND RELEVANCE: We found a majority of our patients were concerned about limitations in access to ophthalmic care and were fearful of disease progression. Additionally, we found a number of demographic and clinical factors that correlated with increased anxiety in our patients.