Glaucoma patients have damaged optic nerves which are responsible for vision. In the current lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, healthcare workers and patients are both overwhelmed by the disease, which is highly transmissible. The infectious disease can spread through direct and indirect contact, leading to deadly results. While the whole world is in a lockdown, patients suffering from conditions like Glaucoma are advised to be more careful. They need to isolate themselves as much as possible as the Corona Virus is more lethal to those with weak immunity.
We have created this guide for Glaucoma patients to stay safe during the pandemic.
Dealing with anxiety and stress
You are inundated with news about the rise in numbers of infected persons and death. While it is a good idea to keep yourself informed, do not follow the news 24-hours and do not believe everything you read online or on the WhatsApp. Here is how you deal with the stress
1. Stick to your routine. Get up at the same time as you did before the pandemic, and follow the same routine.
2. Talk to loved ones regularly. Pick up the phone and talk to neighbours, friends and family. Video calls can help you feel more connected.
3. Revisit a hobby. Depending on the condition of your eye, indulge in your hobbies in your spare time. If you live to read but are unable to do so, listen to audiobooks.
Keeping yourself busy without getting overwhelmed with the news is a great way to deal with anxiety and stress.
Accept the fact that treatments will get delayed
As has been mentioned above, the disease is highly infectious. All eye specialists including ophthalmologists, are not seeing patients to control the spread of the infection. Most hospitals and doctors will require to show a negative corona test result to get an appointment.
1. You may be an asymptomatic carrier and hence, before you get an appointment with our eye specialist, undergoing mandatory testing is a must.
2. At this point, the nation as a whole needs to conserve the medical supplies for the Glaucoma Treatment of critical patients.
3. Eye surgeries which are not essential or life-threatening are postponed to reduce the spread.
Delaying your visit to the hospital may not have a significant impact if your Glaucoma was stable before the pandemic.
Reasons to schedule an appointment or consultation
The optic nerves are responsible for the vision and not getting it treated at the right time can lead to loss of sight. So, let us look at the reasons to Schedule An Appointment or consultation.
1. A change in vision which can include blurry vision, black spots, wavy vision
2. Flashes or floaters in your vision. Floaters are specks or cobwebs and flashes are sparks or strands visible in your field of vision.
3. Unprecedented headaches or shooting pain from the eyes which cannot be controlled by pain medication. Most of the times, the pain is accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
4. Slow or sudden loss of vision
You can consult your doctor over a call and continue with the recommended treatment.
Changes in the process of consultation
Glaucoma patients might get limited access to the hospitals as eye specialists are being asked to stay home and come to the hospital only for urgent consultations and surgeries. It has been done to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.
1. Restrictions for the entry of patients to the crowded waiting areas
2. Patients may be asked you wait outside, either in their vehicles if they have one, or in parks, to reduce exposure to the virus.
3. To limit the number of people visiting the hospital, your relatives or friends might not be allowed to accompany you. Make arrangements for your appointment accordingly.
4. Online video conferencing with patients is practiced for avoiding unnecessary travel. Schedule an online call or video appointment.
5. It is necessary to wear a mask or a face shield during your eye checkup and maintain a safe distance during your conversation with the doctor.
6. Eye specialists will use their professional judgment to determine the timing and course of care, including patient urgency, necessary preventative care, and the monitoring and refilling of prescriptions.
Suppose you are required to visit the clinic or stay home and chat with him over the phone or a video call. A video call will allow your ophthalmologist to determine how urgently you need to be seen for the next line of treatment.
Changes in Glaucoma surgeries during the Covid19 pandemic
During the Covid19 outbreak, Glaucoma surgery that is not considered urgent or emergency surgery is likely to be postponed.
1. The concept of physical distancing holds the key when it comes to performing surgery on a patient like any other patient as the operating room must not be exposed to the virus.
2. It may put on hold other crucial surgeries and delay access to ventilators in case of an emergency.
3. Hospitals also need to preserve the personal protective equipment and hospital beds for critical patients. Therefore, you might not get appointments quickly for a Glaucoma surgery
The main reason behind this is that every hospital and eye clinic would want to avoid unnecessary exposure of patients and hospital staff to the coronavirus that may be brought in by a patient, or a family member, and so on.
Precautions recommended for Glaucoma patients during the visit to an eye specialist
Governments and healthcare workers are stressing on the fact that the coronavirus spreads quickly from one infected person to another. So, if you visiting the hospital for an eye checkup is unavoidable, here are some of the precautions to follow:
1. Let the specialist know if you have any of the coronavirus symptoms. You also have to let the doctor know if you have been in close contact with people who have symptoms like a cough or fever.
2. Based on the seriousness of your Glaucoma and the above symptoms, the doctor may treat you only if they are fully dressed in PPE kits. Your wait time may be longer in comparison to other patients who are there for OPD consultancy.
3. If you need to cough or sneeze, you are required to follow the recommended procedures. Move away from all medical equipment. Even if you are wearing a mask or shield, please cough or sneeze in the crook of your arm.
4. Make sure you wash your hands and sanitise them before meeting the doctor even if you do not have the infection. Do remember, if the doctor is infected by you, the chances of them infecting several other patients rise exponentially.
Do not shake the doctor’s hand even if you do not have any of the Coronavirus symptoms. A simple hello or a namaste will suffice as a greeting.
Taking care of your eyes
Avoid rubbing your eyes as it causes a lot of harm to the eyes. Clean them regularly as per the instructions given by your eye specialist.
1. Dry eyes can lead to more rubbing, therefore, consider using prescribed eye drops 2-3 times a day to prevent dryness.
2. Before administering eye medicine, first, wash your hands with sanitiser or liquid soap for at least 20 seconds and rewash them.
3. Wash your hands often with alcohol-based hand sanitiser or liquid soap.
If you feel an urge to itch or rub your eye or even to adjust your glasses, use a tissue instead of your fingers.
Adding extra protection to your eyes
When stepping out of the house to get Glaucoma treatment or for a consultation, it is necessary to add an extra layer of protection to your eyes.
1. Sunglasses or UV protective lens will protect your eyes against the sharp sun rays, especially in the summer months
2. The glasses also offer protection against the spread of the virus. But this is just an extra layer and not a foolproof method.
3. Opting for safety goggles is better if you are caring for sick patients.
The virus can spread from the rim of your lenses or glasses, and hence, you need to wash your hands and sanitise your eyeglasses regularly.
Precautions and recommendations for Glaucoma patients
Glaucoma patients should follow some general guidelines during the Covid19 outbreak to prevent eye infections and to increase immunity from the virus. Let us look at some of the precautions and recommendations:
1. Practice self-hygiene and social distancing.
2. Wash your hands before and after eating, using the restroom, sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose. Avoid touching your face, particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth.
3. If you cough or sneeze, cover your face with your elbow or a tissue and throw away the tissue immediately after use.
4. Wearing glasses may shield your eyes from infected respiratory droplets.
5. Avoid close contact with sick people and if you think someone has a respiratory infection, maintain a safe distance of 6 feet from that person.
6. Regularly disinfect commonly touched surfaces and items in your house, such as doorknobs and countertop.
Following these guidelines for preventing disease transmission through isolation and cleanliness is expected to slow and ultimately end the spread of the disease.
Stocking on your Glaucoma medicines
Medical experts and doctors advise patients to stock up enough medications at home to limit outside exposure.
1. It will help avoid panic in case of limited or no supply
2. Some doctors recommend a three-month supply of medication in times of a natural disaster.
3. Ask your pharmacist to deliver enough medicines for eye care.
Self-eye care becomes very important in situations like these where medical assistance is limited.
Glaucoma specialists in Delhi are actively identifying safe protocols for examining and testing patients, performing research related to COVID-19 and the eyes, and determining best practices for eye care. Likely, the routine visit of Glaucoma patients to the hospitals and eye care clinics will change in the future to prioritise their eye care and safety.