Ophthalmologists hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic: group

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 03 2021 11:59 AM | Updated as of Sep 03 2021 12:22 PM

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MANILA – Eye doctors are taking a beating in the COVID-19 pandemic as consultations with ophthalmologists decreased since the start of nationwide lockdowns, a group said Friday.

“Our number of consultations decreased, our number of admissions decreased, our number of surgeries decreased because of this social distancing, because of the lockdown,” National Committee for Sight Preservation president Noel Chua said in an ANC interview.

“When we do consultation, we really do face-to-face consultation. Remember the eye is small. So how can you evaluate if you’re not face to face with the patient?”

Chua said patients’ fear of contracting COVID from a face-to-face consultation is stopping them from seeing their doctors. 

“It is the fear of the patient to go to the hospital or go to the clinic that deters them from our consult. Also, from the doctors, we are also fearful of getting an infection from the patient,” he said.

Aside from this, however, Chua said lack of access to ophthalmologists also stops patients from seeing them.

"We did have a research done, the health seeking-behavior of our patients. What was established was that the people usually don’t have any knowledge of eye conditions. And secondly, there's a tendency not to seek help not unless the condition is really worse. And the third finding was the eye professionals or health professionals are not accessible and generally, cost is a deterrent to consult."

Chua said they have resorted to teleconsultation so they can still take care of their patients. They have also put safety measures in place for patients who will need to see them in person.

“In terms of surgery, we have improved it. Before a surgery is done, we do already RT-PCR at least within 3 days. To make sure that the patient is safe when we do the surgery, we also have our own RT-PCR so both sides are safe within the hospital setting, within the operating room,” he said.

“With the improvements in the protocol, now we’re inviting our patients to come and see us even face-to-face,” he said. 

--ANC, 3 September 2021