There is no scientific evidence to suggest a link between glaucoma, coronavirus (Sars-Cov-2) and the corresponding disease, COVID-19. However, due to the increased pressure on the NHS, treatment for glaucoma patients is likely to be affected. This is because hospitals across the UK have begun to postpone routine appointments and surgeries in order to prioritise severe cases.

If you have glaucoma, and are concerned about how your treatment might be impacted, we’ve answered any questions you might have below — including how to care for your condition at home.

Is there any medical link between glaucoma and coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)?

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that glaucoma increases your likelihood of developing COVID-19.

How will coronavirus affect my glaucoma treatment?

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

Advice for current outpatients

If you’re a glaucoma outpatient, your medical record will be assessed by your hospital’s clinical team to decide whether you are in urgent need of care. Unless you’re deemed to have a very high risk of sight loss within months, the hospital is likely to defer your appointment so that the most urgent cases can be seen.

In the meantime, you should continue with the treatment plan your ophthalmologist has prescribed and give them a call if you notice any change in your vision.

Advice for new patients

Most appointments are likely to be postponed in order to prioritise patients at very high risk of sight loss. People with very high eye pressure, sudden vision loss or acute angle-closure will be treated as ‘urgent’. This is necessary in order to ensure that the most critical cases can be treated using limited resources.

Advice for patients awaiting surgery

It’s likely that most glaucoma surgeries will be postponed, unless they fall under the definition of urgent (i.e. patients with a very high risk of sight loss within months). You should contact your doctor to find out the current status of your surgery. 

It’s worth remembering that, while appointments may be deferred, they aren’t being cancelled altogether. Once things improve, it’s important to reschedule your appointment with your doctor so you can receive the necessary treatment.

What information sources should I trust regarding COVID-19 and glaucoma?

There is a lot of misinformation circulating about coronavirus and its link to a number of eye conditions. Glaucoma UK is a reliable resource for patients looking for more information about their condition during this time.

How to manage your glaucoma treatment at home during COVID-19

Unless advised otherwise by a medical practitioner, you should continue to treat your glaucoma at home, as prescribed by your doctor. If you’re using eye drops to manage your glaucoma symptoms, we recommend regularly washing your hands to reduce the likelihood of contracting an infection.

You should contact your eye doctor immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • A sudden change in your vision (such as blurriness or blind spots)
  • Floaters or flashes in your vision
  • Partial vision loss
  • Eye pain, nausea headaches or and vomiting


In general, you should avoid touching your face and eyes and keep all hard-surfaces clean to limit the spread of the virus, should you come into contact with it. We recommend visiting the Government website for more information on keeping yourself safe.

If you have glaucoma and have noticed a recent change in your eyesight, get in touch with your local store. They might recommend talking to our experts with our RemoteCare service or recommend you come in for an appointment.

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

References

1. Glaucoma Association (2020), Coronavirus Update [online]. Available at: https://www.glaucoma-association.com/news/coronavirus-update/ [accessed 8 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 8 April 2020]

3. Yunyun Zhou, Yuyang Zeng, Yongqing Tong, ChangZheng Chen (2020). Ophthalmologic evidence against the interpersonal transmission of 2019 novel coronavirus through conjunctiva [online]. Available at: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.02.11.20021956v1 [accessed 7 April 2020]

4. Ping Wu, Fang Duan, Chunhua Luo, Characteristics of Ocular Findings of Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Hubei Province, China [online]. Available at: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaophthalmology/fullarticle/2764083 [accessed 7 April 2020]

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