There is no evidence to suggest a link between cataracts, coronavirus (Sars-Cov-2) and the corresponding disease, COVID-19. However, as NHS services begin to postpone routine appointments to prioritise those in need of urgent care, treatment for cataract patients is likely to be impacted.

If you have cataracts and are concerned about how your treatment or upcoming surgery could be affected by COVID-19, we’ve answered any questions you may have below — including how to care for your eyes at home.

Is there any link between cataracts and COVID-19?

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that cataracts increase the likelihood of an individual developing COVID-19.

How will coronavirus impact my cataract treatment?

Due to the increased strain placed on the NHS at this time, hospitals across the UK have begun to postpone routine services — including cataracts appointments and surgery. Find out how this could impact your treatment below:

Why has my cataract surgery been cancelled?

Most routine appointments have been cancelled or postponed in order to prioritise those in need of urgent care. We’d recommend that you contact your ophthalmologist for more information and follow their advice regarding the next steps of your treatment.

Will delaying my cataract surgery have a long-term impact on my vision?

No — please be reassured that delaying your surgery will not put your eyesight at permanent risk. However, if you notice a sudden change in your vision or any other symptoms such as pain, you can contact your local Specsavers store for further advice. 

How can patients waiting for cataract surgery maintain their eye health at home during COVID-19?

Unless advised otherwise by a medical practitioner, you should continue to treat your cataracts at home, as advised by your ophthalmologist. While you wait for your surgery, there are a few measures you can take to ensure that you stay safe and healthy at home, including: 

  • Removing potential trip hazards — It is important to assess your home and remove anything that might be a potential trip hazard, including loose rugs, uneven surfaces, steps or stairs that are not marked clearly.
  • Having good lighting — Having good lighting around trip hazards, when reading or concentrating on a task can make a big difference to how well you see.
  • Wearing UV eye protection — If you’re spending time outside in the sunshine, we recommend wearing a good-quality pair of UV sunglasses to keep your eyes protected, as cataracts can make them particularly sensitive to light. 

More generally, it’s important to look after your body in order to maintain optimal eye health at this time, so we advise eating a good diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, staying active, and that smokers cut down or quit altogether. For more advice on staying safe and healthy during lockdown, visit the official UK Government website.

I’ve recently had cataract surgery and have been told to get my eyes tested. Can I still do this?

Yes – we’re now back open for routine eyecare. So if you need an eye test, just get in touch with your local store to book an appointment. 

For the latest updates and eyecare guidance during coronavirus, visit our COVID-19 resource.

References

1. NHS UK (2018), Cataracts [online]. Available at:https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cataracts/ [accessed 9 April 2020] 

2. The New England Journal of Medicine (2020). Clinical Characteristics of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China [online]. Available at: https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa2002032 [accessed 9 April 2020]

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