Inverse relationship noted between COVID-19 cases and ophthalmic procedure volume
The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have had a significant impact on ophthalmic procedural volumes in the United States, according to a study that found a 5% decrease in procedures during the pandemic period, with the sharpest decline occurring in Spring 2020. Additionally, there was a notable increase in procedure volume observed in Spring 2021.
This study underscores the inverse relationship between COVID-19 cases and ophthalmic procedure volume in the United States. The ability to quantify these trends is crucial for retrospectively assessing surgical disruptions and for prospective planning to accommodate delayed surgeries.
The study, which spanned from March 2020 to August 2021, focused on Current Procedural Terminology-specific volumes per healthcare organization, which were clustered chronologically into 3-month seasons for analysis. Intravitreal injections emerged as the most prevalent procedure during this period, with 320,106 occurrences. Phacoemulsification cataract surgery followed with 176,095 instances.
The findings found a 5% decrease (P < 0.05) in procedural volumes during the pandemic period, with a mean of 266.7 procedures per healthcare organization, compared to the pre-pandemic mean of 280.8. The sharpest seasonal decrease occurred in Spring 2020, with an 88% reduction in procedural volume.
In Spring 2021 there was an 18% increase in procedure volume, representing the highest count of statistically significant increases observed in the study. When considering the aggregate mean volume per healthcare organization, the data showed significant decreases for 11 out of 17 procedures in the 12-month period from March 2020 to February 2021. This trend continued over the 18-month pandemic period, with 10 out of 17 procedures experiencing significant decreases.
DeYoung C, Asahi MG, Rosenberg S, et al. Ophthalmology procedure trends in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. Int Ophthalmol. 2023;doi: 10.1007/s10792-023-02865-1. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37709910.