Objectives: To investigate the effect of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the clinical practice of ophthalmologists in our country.
Materials and methods: A questionnaire consisting of 22 questions was delivered to 250 ophthalmologists via e-mail and a smartphone messaging application. A total of 113 ophthalmologists completed the survey. The questions included the participants' demographic data (age, years in practice, institution, and city), changes in their working conditions and institutional preventive measures implemented during the pandemic, their personal COVID-19 experiences, the prevalence of telemedicine applications, and their attitudes toward these practices.
Results: Nearly half (47.8%) of the 113 ophthalmologists were 36 to 45 years old. In terms of years in practice, the largest proportion of respondents (28.3%) had 6-10 years of experience. Most of the participants worked in private/foundation universities (37.2%), while 22.1% worked in education and research clinics. Participants working at public universities most often reported that they or a close contact had to work in COVID wards (89.5%). Triage was performed in 51.5% of ophthalmology outpatient clinics, with 88.0% of these participants reporting that patients with fever, cough, or dyspnea were directed to the pandemic clinic without ophthalmological examination. All participants working in public hospitals, education and research clinics, and public university hospitals had postponed elective surgeries, whereas 12.5% of those working in private practice and 20.5% of those working in private/foundation universities reported that they continued elective surgeries. While 80.8% of the participants did not conduct online interviews or examinations, 40.4% stated that they considered telemedicine applications beneficial. Seventy-seven percent of participants expressed concern about a decrease in their income during the pandemic, with this being especially common among participants working in private practice (87.5%) and private/foundation university hospitals (85.7%).
Conclusion: Ophthalmologists across our country have been affected by this pandemic at a level that will change their clinical approach. We think that ophthalmologists impacted by the difficulty of providing personal protective equipment and economic concerns should be supported more during the pandemic.
Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic; ophthalmology clinical practice; survey.