31 March 2020
Source: International Glaucoma Association
The coronavirus pandemic is impacting all NHS services, and eye services are no exception.
If the situation is causing you stress or anxiety, the IGA is here to support you. They know that as a nation, we need to support the NHS at this time and understand there will be sacrifices, but we also know that this isn’t always easy to cope with. You don’t need to cope alone. If you’d like to talk to someone just call the glaucoma helpline on 01233 64 81 70 from Monday to Friday, 9:30am – 5:00pm.
So how are hospital glaucoma services being affected by coronavirus?
Hospitals across the UK have started deferring all routine work. This includes outpatient appointments and surgery.
OUTPATIENTS: If you’re a glaucoma outpatient, your medical record will probably be assessed, by the clinical team and unfortunately only the most urgent cases will be seen. Unless you’re assessed as having a very high risk of sight loss within months, the hospital will probably contact you to DEFER your appointment. This is expected to be the case for virtual or optometrist-led clinics too.
NEW PATIENTS: It’s likely that only those at very high risk of sight loss within months will be seen at the hospital. People with very high intraocular pressure, sudden visual loss or acute angle closure are likely to be treated as ‘urgent’, but all other cases will probably be deferred. This is necessary in order to ensure that the most critical cases can be treated using limited resources.
SURGERY: We expect that almost all glaucoma surgery WILL BE DEFERRED unless it falls into the new definition of urgent, i.e. only patients with a very high risk of sight loss within months, of a kind that seriously threatens quality of life.
If you were due to have surgery in the coming weeks or months, your hospital will probably be in touch. It may be that a change in your eye drop regime may be introduced as a satisfactory temporary solution, and we hope eye clinic staff would discuss this with you. We understand this will be frustrating and unsettling for people who may have already waited many months for surgery, but these are unprecedented circumstances and we need to ensure NHS staff are available to help deal with the current emergency situation, as well as preventing unnecessary visits to hospital.
Read the full statement on the IGA Website