Author: Ömer Özer (Turkey)
Co-authors: Özgün Oktay, Erdem Dinç, Özer Dursun, Mustafa Vatansever, Ufuk Adıgüzel
The aim of this study is to research the profiles of patients who received intravitreal anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) injection for various reasons in the COVID-19 pandemic.
This study includes the data of patients who received anti-VEGF injection in Department of Ophthalmology, Faculty of Medicine, Mersin University from March 11, 2020 (Covid-19 has been declared pandemic by the WHO and the first positive cases were seen at the same time in Turkey) to March 12, 2021.
Basic demographic characteristics, initial visual acuity, indications of treatment, number of injections and intravitreal agents used (bevacizumab, ranibizumab and aflibercept) were noted. During this period, patients who received other drugs (steroids or antibiotics) intravitreally were excluded from this study. Data recorded included age, sex, diagnosis, baseline best-corrected visual acuity and treatment-naïve status, and the number of injections performed.
387 eyes of 290 patients who received intravitreal injection within the specified period were included in this study. In total, 1286 intravitreal injections were examined. 184 (63.45%) of the patients were male and 106 (36.55%) were female. While intravitreal injection was performed in only one eye of 193 (66.55%) patients, 97 (33.45%) patients received bilateral intravitreal injection. Among the agents used in intravitreal injections, 61.5% (n = 791) were bevacizumab, 23.8% (n = 306) ranibizumab and 14.7% (n = 189) aflibercept. Seventy three of the patients (25.17%) had previously received treatment and 217 (74.83%) had not received any treatment. Diabetic macular edema was diagnosed in 239 eyes (61.75%), age-related macular degeneration in 122 eyes (31.53%), and retinal vascular occlusion in 26 eyes (6.72%). The mean age was 61.35 ± 11.39 years in the diabetic macular edema group, 68.49 ± 11.65 years in the age-related macular degeneration group, and 55.83 ± 16.60 years in the retinal vascular occlusion group. Initial visual acuities were 0.3078 ± 0.2675 in the diabetic macular edema group, 0.2781 ± 0.2607 in the age-related macular degeneration group, and 0.2995 ± 0.3081 in the retinal vascular occlusion group.There is no statistically significant difference between baseline visual acuities. (p>0,05)
In conclusion, we report our clinical experience regarding our administration of intravitreal injection therapy to priority patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Clinical evaluation and intravitreal therapy are feasible and successful for all patients on a background that strictly adheres to infection control measures. Delays in treatment can jeopardize our patients' visual function and quality of life. Trust in infection control protocols and resumption of essential medical services in these difficult times is encouraged.
I have no financial interest to disclose