Short-term effects of COVID-19-related deferral of Intravitreal injection visits

Noy Ashkenazy, Lediana Goduni, William E. Smiddy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine secondary effects of the mandated COVID-19 pandemic closure period for elective treatment on non-elective, injection-based retina care and outcomes. Patients and Methods: In this cross-sectional, retrospective analysis of a single-provider outpatient clinic across multiple satellites, consecutive patients returning for intravitreal injections (IVIs) of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor or corticosteroids were identified as “delayed” or “undelayed” during a six-week study interval during the COVID-19 pandemic that closely following a mandated period of prohibited elective encounters. A “delayed” encounter was defined as having a follow-up interval exceeding 33% of the recommended cycle. Patients seen for IVIs during the corresponding six-week interval a year previously were identified for study as pre-COVID-19 controls. Main outcome measures included best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) and optical coherence tomography (OCT) assessment based on findings of intraretinal or subretinal fluid consistent with new or recurrent neovascular events. Results: The study included 183 eyes of 144 patients who underwent IVI-based care from June 18, 2020, through August 7, 2020, compared to 193 eyes of 154 patients injected during the corresponding interval 1 year before. There were 62 eyes of 46 patients seen in the study period later than scheduled (among 144 patients of 183 eyes in total), which represented a larger proportion of delayed patients compared to the previous year (31.9% vs. 14.9%, p<0.0005). Considering the patterns from the control group, the attributed delay due to COVID-19 was 15.0% of patients. The delayed return eyes had a greater decline in BCVA (3 letters), higher rates of worsened OCT results (48%), and prompted reduction in previously prescribed injection intervals (p<0.02). Conclusion: The unintended consequence of delayed care of patients on established care regimens should be anticipated, and mitigate strategies considered if similar restrictions are mandated in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-417
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Ophthalmology
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor
  • COVID-19
  • Pandemic
  • Retinal vascular diseases
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Treatment outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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