The American Academy of Ophthalmology advises all ophthalmologists cease providing any treatment other than urgent or emergent care immediately as a result of COVID-19. This recommendation includes cataract surgery. After thoughtful, lengthy discussions and full consideration of varying viewpoints, ASCRS fully supports the Academy’s position, which is aligned with CDC’s recommendation. We concur that even eye exams pose the risk of contagion between asymptomatic patients and medical staff due to our close proximity, and ophthalmologists care for a disproportionately elderly population. Furthermore, CMS released guidelines citing cataract surgery as an example of elective surgery that can be delayed without harm. The recommendation is in effect until further notice.
None of us could ever imagine a scenario where we might have to limit or cease performing life-changing cataract procedures. However, these are exceptional times that require extraordinary measures. It is critical at this time that healthcare professionals in general, and ophthalmologists specifically, come together and unite on guidance and recommendations that will safeguard public health and mitigate the spread of this infectious disease.
ASCRS is by and for anterior segment surgeons and it is with your interests top of mind that ASCRS supports the Academy’s position, despite the hardships this position imparts on us and our patients. This is an extremely complex problem we are facing, and we need as a society to put the safety of ourselves, our staff and most importantly our patients, as the highest priority.
With time, commitment and perseverance, we will get through this together. Thank you for your continued support.
Nick Mamalis, MD