Cédric Schweitzer MD, PhD, FEBO
The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting new challenges to ophthalmic clinicians in France as new restrictions come into force that allow surgical procedures only in urgent cases and as new measures are adopted in examination and referral to prevent transmission of the virus.
“We focus only on trauma, retinal detachment or other retinal surgery that requires emergency care, glaucoma, but only cases with high intraocular pressure, and some corneal disease grafts. We also focus on acute angle-closure glaucoma and postoperative patients who need specific care. Other patients are referred to our colleagues in private clinics and we strongly recommend to patients that they stay at home,” Cédric Schweitzer MD, PhD, FEBO, CHU Bordeaux, France, told EuroTimes in an interview.
To improve social distancing, hospitals have been asked to significantly reduce the number of patients they see and increase the number of doctors in the emergency department to reduce waiting times. Patients are also now required to wash their hands when they enter the clinic or hospital department, and are asked to maintain a distance of at least one metre away from each other. In addition, physicians are wearing masks and gloves whenever possible when examining patients.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the need for reduced social contact can lead to troubling dilemmas in patient care, Dr Schweitzer said. He described a recent case involving an elderly patient with vision in only one eye in which she had undergone penetrating keratoplasty and in which she had developed glaucoma, with an intraocular pressure of 25mmHg.
“When she was in the theatre I saw that she had a tracheotomy and had a recent history of lung cancer and I decided to cancel the surgery for her safety. I knew she would require frequent follow-up visits, which would increase her risk of exposure to COVID-19. We are having to make some difficult decisions for our patients’ safety,” Dr Schweitzer added.