Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on anti-vascular endothelial growth factor treatment in China
Author: Han Zhang (China)
Co-authors: Kai-Bo Yang, Hao Feng
To evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on anti-VEGF treatment in ophthalmology patients in a single hospital in northern China.
Retrospective case series.
We retrospectively reviewed the charts of all patients who received anti-VEGF treatment in The China Medical University First Hospital Department of Ophthalmology from January 21, 2020 (the day on which the outpatient services and operations were restricted because of the pandemic), to June 1, 2020. Clinical characteristics and visual acuity outcomes of these patients were evaluated.
A total of 93 anti-VEGF injections were administered to 85 eyes of 72 patients at The China Medical University First Hospital Department of Ophthalmology during the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared to the same period in 2019, the number of injections decreased by 70%. Fifty-nine eyes of 46 patients were receiving 3+PRN anti-VEGF treatment prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic; all of these patients experienced treatment interruptions due to COVID-19-associated reasons. Anatomic and functional outcomes suggest that patients with anti-VEGF treatment interruptions are at risk for severe adverse visual sequelae. Moreover, deferred anti-VEGF treatment due to patient-related or department-related reasons during the COVID-19 pandemic may result in poor visual outcomes for new patients.
Our results suggest that COVID-19 has had a significant negative effect on anti-VEGF treatment in ophthalmology patients. Detailed guidance from global experts in ophthalmology is highly sought after in these challenging circumstances.
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