The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Surgical Primary Retinal Detachments

Ophthalmologica. 2022;245(2):111-116. doi: 10.1159/000520342. Epub 2021 Oct 21.


Purpose: This study aimed to describe the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the presentation characteristics, timings, and surgical decisions for primary rhegmatogenous retinal detachment (RRD).

Methods: A historical cohort including all patients who presented to the Surgical Retina Section at Centro Hospitalar Universitário do Porto (CHUPorto), over a 2-year period, was recruited and divided into 2 groups: pre-COVID and COVID groups. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was recorded as starting on March 18, 2020, the same day the first pandemic-related lockdown came to effect in Portugal.

Results: This study enrolled 449 eyes of 443 patients: 272 in the pre-COVID group and 177 in the COVID one. Of the patients, 63.6% were male, and the mean ± SD age was 63.0 ± 13.2 years (range 13-92 years). Of the eyes, 55.5% (n = 151) presented with macular detachment in the pre-COVID group compared with 66.9% (n = 119) in the COVID group (odds ratio [OR] 1.62; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.09-3.86; p = 0.016). The time from symptom onset to hospital admission (p = 0.021) and from admission to surgery (p < 0.001) was longer in the COVID era. In the COVID period, silicone oil (OR 2.03, 95% CI: 1.09-3.79, p = 0.025) and C3F8 gas (OR 2.42, 95% CI: 1.57-3.71, p < 0.001) were used more often. No differences in anatomical success or final visual acuity were found.

Conclusions: The lockdown due to COVID pandemic affected the epidemiology of RRD. The services must adapt to the novel reality and produce backup plans for similar events. Despite the contingencies, the final results were not different between groups.

Keywords: Coronavirus disease 19; Primary retinal detachment; Vitrectomy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Retinal Detachment* / diagnosis
  • Retinal Detachment* / epidemiology
  • Retinal Detachment* / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vitrectomy
  • Young Adult