Purpose: There is an urgent need to address how to best provide ophthalmic care for patients with retinal disease receiving intravitreal injections with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor agents during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. This article provides guidance for ophthalmologists on how to deliver the best possible care for patients while minimizing the risk of infection.
Methods: The Vision Academy's Steering Committee of international retinal disease experts convened to discuss key considerations for managing patients with retinal disease during the COVID-19 pandemic. After reviewing the existing literature on the issue, members put forward recommendations that were systematically refined and voted on to develop this guidance.
Results: The considerations focus on the implementation of steps to minimize the exposure of patients and healthcare staff to COVID-19. These include the use of personal protective equipment, adherence to scrupulous hygiene and disinfection protocols, pre-screening to identify symptomatic patients, and reducing the number of people in waiting rooms. Other important measures include triaging of patients to identify those at the greatest risk of irreversible vision loss and prioritization of treatment visits over monitoring visits where possible. In order to limit patient exposure, ophthalmologists should refrain from using treatment regimens that require frequent monitoring.
Conclusion: Management of patients with retinal disease receiving intravitreal injections during the COVID-19 pandemic will require adjustment to regular clinical practice to minimize the risk of exposure of patients and healthcare staff, and to prioritize those with the greatest medical need. The safety of patients and healthcare staff should be of paramount importance in all decision-making.
Keywords: COVID-19; Coronavirus; Ophthalmology; Recommendations; Retinal disease; Vision Academy.