Hyderabad: The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the ophthalmology clinics and outlets that provide eye-care services to patients in Hyderabad. Barring emergency facilities, almost all the vision clinics have to postpone their elective procedures in view of the risks involved during the ongoing epidemic.
In order to revive such facilities, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued fresh guidelines aimed to minimise the spread of Covid-19 infection among ophthalmologists, ophthalmic assistants, technicians, nurses, support staff, patients and their attendants. The Health Ministry, however, directed eye care facilities in containment zones to remain closed and only those outside such zones will be allowed to be open.
No corneal collection at home
In its guidelines, the Health Ministry made it clear that there will be no eye-ball retrieval at homes and only Hospital Cornea Retrieval Programme can be continued in non-Covid-19 cadavers, for utilisation of corneas for therapeutic purposes only.
To conduct cataract surgeries of patients who are residing in far flung areas, it directed vision centres to take up remote consultations. The identified patients should be called to the base hospital by appointment for cataract surgery so that backlog of cataract does not build up.
The guidelines advised eye clinics to encourage tele-counselling and tele-consultation to discourage patient visits and follow appointment system to call patients needing eye consultations or procedures.
To avoid rush or presence of large number of patients in the outpatient departments (OPD), the guidelines advised eye care facilities to focus digital or app-based registration of patients first. Through a phone call, the hospital’s ophthalmologist or trained ophthalmic personnel can determine the nature of the eye problem and Covid-19 status of the patient and issue an appointment accordingly, which will avoid rush of patients.
Eye care facilities are not allowed to conduct any routine or complex surgery on suspected or positive Covid-19 patients. However, the Health Ministry has not made it mandatory to take up pre-surgical Covid-19 test on patients, but a thorough history taking and examination must be done to ensure that patient has minimal probability of having Covid infection.