March 4, 2021

Frequency of urgent, emergent vitreoretinal surgical procedures during COVID-19

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

This multi-center study finds that critical vitreoretinal surgical procedures deemed as urgent or emergency decreased nationwide from March until May 2020, even though the American Academy of Ophthalmology said these procedures should continue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data were collected from 17 institutions throughout the US. Compared to 2019, there was a maximal:


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  • 38.6% decrease in intravitreal injections
  • 79.6% decrease in lasers and cryotherapy
  • 59.4% decrease in retinal detachment repairs
  • 84.3% decrease in other vitrectomies.

No differences were found by region, setting, or level of stay-at-home orders. The analysis included more than a half million urgent or emergent procedures nationwide.

The researchers conclude that further research will be required to assess the long-term visual impact of these decreases in surgical procedures for high-acuity conditions.

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