December 2020


Looking forward

by Clara Chan, MD Cornea Editor

It has now been more than 8 months of living and working with COVID in our lives. Our children and grandchildren have gone back to school, clinics have reopened, ophthalmology surgeries are being prioritized, eye surgeons are working overtime to clear the backlog of patients. We have adapted and are wearing masks and goggles, working across larger slit lamp shields, wiping down surfaces frequently, keeping doors open for improved air flow, minimizing patients’ in-office time, and increasing virtual interactions with patients and colleagues. Waiting rooms are less crowded to accommodate social distancing measures, and patients appreciate the shorter wait times to be seen. I think that patient care has actually improved.
A couple of months ago, while on call, I repaired a globe rupture in a man who was punched in the eye after calling out his assailant for not wearing a mask. Just this past weekend, I repaired another globe rupture of a young girl celebrating the end of her quarantine period after previously testing positive for COVID-19 a month before. These tragic events put into perspective how greatly all our lives have changed and how quickly things can change in a split second. COVID has not gone away and is likely here to stay as we await a vaccine launch.
Cornea transplants have declined, with potential donors being excluded due to COVID health risks. We are still gaining a deeper understanding of the low risk of contamination of corneal tissue. Some patients continue to put off their surgeries as they are apprehensive of venturing out of their homes. Dry eye complaints from mask wearing and excessive screen time seem to have increased. Managing patients during a pandemic is more stressful for everyone, and taking into account patients’ mental health and socio-economic level is more important than ever before.
From an academic standpoint, while a plethora of virtual learning options have exploded over the last few months via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, etc., I am looking forward to the opportunity to have an in-person meeting again, such as the ASCRS Annual Meeting planned for August 2021 in San Francisco, California. The ASCRS Cornea Clinical Committee has some exciting sessions planned, such as the Cornea Essentials and Ocular Surface In-Office Procedures symposia. Stay tuned for more details, and I hope to see you there!

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