Objective: Since the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a public health emergency, medical societies around the world published COVID-19 recommendations to physicians to ensure patient care and physician safety. During this pandemic, ophthalmologists around the world adapted their clinical and surgical practice following such guidelines. This original research examines all publicly available COVID-19 recommendations from twelve major ophthalmology societies around the world.
Methods and analysis: Twelve ophthalmology societies recognised by the International Council of Ophthalmology were included in this study. One society per each WHO region was included: the society selected was the one who had the highest number of national COVID-19 confirmed cases on 11 May 2020. In addition to these countries, the major ophthalmology society in each G7 country was included.
Results: Ten out of 12 major international ophthalmology societies from countries covering all six WHO regions have given recommendations regarding urgent patient care, social distancing, telemedicine and personal protective equipment when caring for ophthalmic patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. While all guidelines emphasise the importance of postponing non-urgent care and taking necessary safety measures, specific recommendations differ between countries.
Conclusions: As there is no clear consensus on ophthalmology guidelines across countries, this paper highlights the differences in international ophthalmic care recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Knowledge of the differences in ophthalmic management plans will allow ophthalmologists and all eye care providers to consider the variety of international approaches and apply best practices following evidence-based recommendations during pandemics.
Keywords: medical education; public health; telemedicine; treatment other.
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.