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EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-318015


Background: In order to contain the community spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Italy, a stringent lockdown was imposed, which also impacted the healthcare services. The purpose of this study is to investigate the drop in the number of outpatients in the Ophthalmic Emergency Service (OES) in the Eye Clinic of University of Bari during the COVID-19 lockdown. Methods: A retrospective analysis of electronic medical records from a tertiary referral center in Southern Italy was performed. Demographics and medical characteristics of patients examined in the OES between March 10 th , 2020 and May 3 rd , 2020 were assessed and compared with records from the same period in 2019. We categorized the patients by sex, age group, and by the type of eye disease that was recorded as the principal diagnosis. The change (%) in the number of patients and diseases between the study periods was analyzed. Results: We observed a reduction in the number of OES visits during the lockdown (-63.4%) compared to the number of visits in 2019. The greatest changes were observed in the youngest (≤20 years;-76.6%) and the most elderly patients (≥81 years;-70.9%). The decrease in the number of patients presenting with each pathology ranged from -82% to -28.5%, depending on the pathology, and mainly involved the orbital and palpebral pathologies, anterior segment disorders, non-specific visual symptoms, and minor injuries. The diagnosis of chronic pathologies, rhegmatogenous retinal detachment, and vitreous haemorrhage increased by 134%, 100%, and 75%, respectively. Conclusions: Our results revealed the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on OES activities in the Eye Clinic of University of Bari. A drop in number of visits across all age groups was observed. The number of patients presenting with minor and nonurgent conditions decreased, whereas the number of patients presenting with chronic diseases and urgent but deferrable conditions increased.