The Coronavirus pandemic has placed an indisputable strain on the services provided by the NHS over the past few months. The UK Ophthalmology Alliance and Royal College of Ophthalmologists believe that at least 10,000 people have missed out on care essential to maintaining their eyesight in England, Wales and Scotland.

Hospital Trusts have only been performing a mere 10% of the most urgent procedures, this coupled with the fears about Coronavirus means many patients have missed appointments to monitor their eyesight and existing conditions.

The risks of being unable to access regular care and treatment for conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy mean that many risk losing their sight completely. Issues such as retinal detachment require urgent surgery to minimise the long term effects and with only 10% of the most urgent cases going ahead it is clear that Covid-19 will impact the sight of many. Ophthalmologists believe that in the three months of lockdown there were 1,500 fewer operations for retinal detachment and at least 8,000 fewer people receiving injections for AMD. The Royal College of Ophthalmologists also believe that up to 50% of patients were not attending the most urgent appointments, undoubtedly through fear surrounding the pandemic.

A spokesperson for NHS England was keen to advise people that “the NHS is still open for those who need it and people should still contact services if they think they need to”. It is important that this message is communicated throughout England as people will still be worried about over burdening the NHS with their health issues, but by doing so, they could be seriously damaging their eyesight. What is worrying is that the UK Ophthalmology Alliance believe that there was already a backlog going into the pandemic. It appears likely that patients will be subject to delays in treatment whilst the backlog is cleared.

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Our specialist clinical negligence team is experienced in supporting and advising people who have suffered avoidable injury due to poor standards of medical care and delayed or inappropriate treatment. If you believe that yourself, or a loved one, has experienced harm as a result of poor care, we may be able to assist you.

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