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Statement on vision impairment and Covid-19

26 May 2020

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists is unable to report on the association of vision impairment, as a result of a patient contracting COVID-19, due to a lack of evidence. A direct causal effect can only be established through the reporting of proven cases of COVID-19 patients and their symptoms.

Our scientific journal EYE, has recently published a collection of research papers that focus on the latest evidence and impact of COVID-19 on ophthalmology practice. Several articles in this issue discuss the latest understanding of ocular involvement by coronavirus and the risk of transmission through ocular tissue and tears.

We believe that there have been a few cases reported on viral conjunctivitis and a statement was issued on this topic, in association with the College of Optometrists in March.

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists and members are continuing to recover hospital eye services to ensure that high risk patients are receiving the treatment and follow up appointments to manage their conditions and to reduce any potential loss of vision.

It is important that patients ring 111, or speak with their GP or an optometrist if they feel that their vision has deteriorated. If patients have experienced significant loss of vision or trauma to their eyes, they should go to their nearest A&E. Working with NHSE and the College of Optometrists, RCOphth have developed a framework for the implementation of emergency eye care access for patients.