Background: Survey by the commission for cross-sectoral ophthalmology, as a joint commission of the German Ophthalmological Society (DOG) and the Professional Association of German Ophthalmologists (BVA) on the effects of the SARS-CoV‑2 pandemic on ophthalmological patient care in Germany.
Results: A total of 1190 questionnaires were (partly) answered. With respect to outpatient care and consultations from 15 March to 15 April 2020, a total of 69 (5.8%) participants indicated unlimited, 756 (63.5%) reduced and 330 (27.7%) emergency care only, independent of the type of institution. Outpatient surgery was restricted to emergency surgery in 68% of clinics, 42.0% of inpatient wards, 45.0% of surgical medical care centers and group practices and 33.0% of private practices. Inpatient procedures were limited to emergency care in 75.0% of inpatient wards and in 71.0% of clinics. With the exception of endophthalmitis (+8.2%), the number of urgent indications and emergencies declined: retinal detachment (-34.8%), perforating eyeball injuries (-7.3%), acute glaucoma (-17.8%), central retinal artery occlusion and anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (-31.0%), others (-30.9%), penetrating keratoplasty and amniotic membrane transplantation (-59.1%). Institutional or professional policy requirements (76.0%) and appointment cancellation by patients (84.0%) were the most common reasons for limitations in ophthalmic patient care.
Conclusion: The initial phase of the pandemic was characterized by a massive reduction in non-urgent conservative and surgical treatment that affected all areas of ophthalmology. Due to intensive care capacities required for COVID-19 patients, inpatient treatment was largely restricted to emergencies. Treatment of ophthalmological patients, including ocular emergencies and urgent treatment, was maintained across all sectors with a (considerable) decrease in the number of cases even in these groups.