Short- and Long-Term Visual Outcomes in Patients Receiving Intravitreal Injections: The Impact of the Coronavirus 2019 Disease (COVID-19)-Related Lockdown

Date Published:

2022 Apr 08


Purpose: To investigate the short- and long-term impact of COVID-19-related lockdown on the vision of patients requiring intravitreal injections (IVI) for neovascular Age-related Macular degeneration (nvAMD), diabetic retinopathy (DR), central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO), or branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO). Methods: This is a retrospective study from the Retina department of three Mass Eye and Ear centers. Charts of patients age of ≥ 18 years with any of the abovementioned diagnoses who had a scheduled appointment anytime between 17 March 2020 until 18 May 2020 (lockdown period in Boston, Massachusetts) were reviewed at baseline (up to 12 weeks before the lockdown), at first available follow-up (=actual f/u) during or after the lockdown period, at 3 months, 6 months, and at last available completed appointment of 2020. Results: A total of 1001 patients met the inclusion criteria. Of those patients, 479 (47.9%) completed their intended f/u appointment, while 522 missed it (canceled and "no show"). The delay in care of those who missed it was 59.15 days [standard deviation (SD) ± 49.6]. In these patients, significant loss of vision was noted at actual f/u [Best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) in LogMAR (Logarithm of the Minimum Angle of Resolution)-mean (±SD)-completed: 0.45 (±0.46), missed: 0.53 (±0.55); p = 0.01], which was more prominent in the DR group [Visual acuity (VA) change in LogMAR-mean (±SD); completed: 0.04 (±0.28), missed: 0.18 (±0.44); p = 0.02] and CRVO [completed: -0.06 (±0.27), missed: 0.11 (±0.35); p = <0.001] groups followed by nvAMD [completed: 0.006 (±0.16), missed: 0.06 (±0.27); p = 0.004] and BRVO [completed: -0.02 (±0.1), missed: 0.03 (±0.14); p = 0.02] ones. Overall, a higher percent of people who missed their intended f/u experienced vision loss of more than 15 letters at last f/u compared to those who completed it [missed vs. completed; 13.4% vs. 7.4% in nvAMD (p = 0.72), 7.8% vs. 6.3% in DR (0.84), 15.5% vs. 9.9% in CRVO (p < 0.001) and 9.6% vs. 2% in BRVO (p = 0.48)]. Conclusions: Delay in care of about 8.45 weeks can lead to loss of vision in patients who receive IVI with DR and CRVO patients being more vulnerable in the short-term, whereas in the long-term, CRVO patients followed by the nvAMD patients demonstrating the least vision recovery. BRVO patients were less likely to be affected by the delay in care. Adherence to treatment is key for maintaining and improving visual outcomes in patients who require IVI.

Last updated on 05/01/2022