Characterizing Barriers to Follow-Up Retinal Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic

A study presented at the American Society of Retina Specialists 2021 Annual Meeting aimed to characterize patient-identified barriers to care in people with retina appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Michael A. Klufas and colleagues conducted a 14-question survey of 1,345 patients who missed their eye appointments in the early stages of the COVID pandemic, from March through May 2020. The population of interest were derived from Philadelphia and included residents in urban, suburban, and rural areas.


Univariate logistic regression, independent-samples t-test, and Pearson correlation coefficient were used to assess differences among subgroups.


Overall, 181 people who completed the survey. The most significant barriers to care included fear of COVID-19 (42%), wait times (11.6%), and costs (6.1%). The results showed that those who obtained their COVID-19 information from the CDC and televised news networks had higher levels of fear. Moreover, patients with diabetic retinopathy and higher Charlson Comorbidity Index scores had greater levels of COVID-related concern.


“This survey study suggests fear of COVID-19 is a prominent new barrier to retinal care. Identifying those at risk for loss to follow up can guide practices as the pandemic continues,” the researchers concluded.


Source: Klufas M, et al. Barriers to Follow-up Retinal Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Survey Study. Published for ASRS 2021; October 8-12, 2021, San Antonio, TX.