Virus fear: Cataract patients in eye of Covid-19 storm | Hyderabad News

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Hyderabad: With the fear of Covid-19 keeping people away from regular check-ups, eye disorders have seen a significant rise in numbers, say city ophthalmologists. According to them, majority of the cases comprise advanced cataracts and dry eyes — either a result of delayed treatment or loss of work-life balance due to work-from-home schedules.
“In the last quarter of 2019, only 10% of all cataract patients visiting the hospital were suffering from advanced cataract. But in the last quarter of 2020, this figure jumped to 50%, a five-fold increase. The cases of dry eyes due to digital eye strain similarly shot from 10% to 30%-50% over the same period,” said Dr Gaurav Arora, regional medical director (Telangana), of Dr Agarwal’s Eye Hospital.
“We also noticed worsening of existing cases of glaucoma among many patients as they hesitated to come for regular follow-ups. There were also complications in previous corneal transplant patients, such as rejection of cornea and high eye pressure,” Arora added.
In one such case, a 70-year-old man who was diagnosed with cataract in the first week of February 2020 was found to have lost 70% of his vision, when he turned up for check-up recently. Doctors attending to him said that he had put his regular follow-ups on hold for an entire year, as he was scared to visit the hospital amid rising Covid cases. Doctors had to perform a very complicated surgery on the patient to save his vision.
But this is not a stray case, ophthalmologists reiterated, saying many patients suffering from diabetes too ignored their periodic eye check-ups during the pandemic, leading to severe complications in their retina.
“I find that a lot of patients from all walks of life, including those with diabetes, delayed diagnosis or treatment of a disease as they were afraid of contracting Covid-19. People are more scared of the virus that has a mortality rate of 3%-4% than an advanced stage of cataract or glaucoma, which might lead to permanent loss of vision if not treated in time,” said Dr Ravi Chandra, consultant ophthalmologist, Dhrishti Eye Clinic.

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Elena Johaness

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