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Five-fold increase in cases of advanced cataract and dry eyes during the pandemic

Hyderabad, 16 April 2021: Healthcare experts have revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic has let fivefold increase in the cases of advanced cataract, dry eyes problems during the past two years.

Comparing the periods before 2019 previous to Covid pandemic and 2020-21 post pandemic era, a study conducted by Dr. Agarwal’s Eye Hospital has found that the pandemic has significantly worsened the severity of most eye conditions in the people and among them a large section of people are suffering from advanced cataracts, eye infections and dry eyes (digital eye strain).

According to the doctors of Dr. Agarwals Eye Hospital, the worst impact was seen in cases of advanced cataracts and dry eyes, all resulting from delayed treatment or loss of work-life balance due to working from home.

Giving statistics comparing the pre and post-pandemic situation, Dr. Gaurav Arora, Regional Medical Director, Telangana, Dr. Agarwals Eye Hospital said, “In the last quarter of 2019, less than 10 percent of all cataract patients coming to our hospital were suffering from advanced cataract. In the last quarter of 2020, this figure jumped to 50 per cent, a five-fold increase. The cases of dry eyes due to digital eye strain similarly jumped from 10 per cent to 30-50 per cent over the same period. We noticed worsening of existing cases of glaucoma in many patients as they hesitated to come for regular follow-ups. There were also complications in previous corneal transplant patients such as rejection of cornea and high eye pressure. People with diabetes ignored their period eye check-ups during the pandemic period, leading to severe complications in their retina.”

Another expert, Dr. Bhanu Prakash, Sr. Consultant Ophthalmologist, Dr. Agarwals Eye Hospital highlighted some examples of eye patients suffering from increased morbidity due to delay in seeking treatment.

Adding further the eye experts said that conjunctivitis is the most common manifestation and can develop at any stage of the disease. Direct effect due to virus, immune-mediated tissue damage, activation of the coagulation cascade and prothrombotic state induced by the viral infection, the associated co morbidities, and drugs used in the management are responsible for the findings in the eye. Covid eye connection can be either directly related to the covid infection and its treatment or to the indirect effect of working from home.

“We believe the direct effects of COVID infection on the eye can be in the form of rare eye problems like Conjunctivitis, Keratoconjunctivitis, Blepharitis, Retinal micro vascular problems like vein occlusions, cotton wool spots, Neuro-Ophthalmic complications - Nerve paresis/optic neuritis and other rare problems in ICU admitted patients - corneal infections, ischemic optic neuropathy, Valsalva retinopathy, acute angle-closure glaucoma, endogenous endophthalmitis, orbital fungal infections. Some rare eye problems may also arise from the drugs used to treat corona virus-like anti-malarial, immuno modulators, anti-virals, etc,” said Dr. Arora.


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