Aug 10, 2021
COVID-19 & EYE CARE IN CANADA
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, including the provision of eye care in Canada. The impact on Canadians’ eye health is outlined in a new report released by Fighting Blindness Canada in partnership with the Canadian Council of the Blind and organizations representing Optometrists and Ophthalmologists.
The report showed that there was a delay or cancellation of many eye care appointments, treatments, and almost 150,000 surgeries which led to an estimated 1,437 people losing vision in 2020.
This vision loss caused by a delay in diagnosis and treatment is estimated to increase costs of eye care by an additional $39.1 million every year.
In addition, other Canadians are likely to face ongoing impacts on their eye health, quality of life, and finances due to the backlog of services such as cataract surgery.
Longer eye surgery wait times will have an estimated $1.3 billion impact over the next three years, including $253.3 million in health care costs and over $1 billion in lost quality of life.
COVID-19 continues to challenge the Canadian healthcare system. The full extent of reduced eye care continues to be investigated and data collected to assess the longer-term impacts of the pandemic on the eye health of Canadians.
- Decreased utilization of ophthalmic services reduced the cost of vision care and loss to the healthcare system by $720 million in 2020. However, there are likely to be ongoing impacts between 2021 and 2023, and beyond, for major eye conditions including cataract, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.
- 36% reduction in ophthalmic same-day procedures in 2020. There was a 36% reduction in ophthalmic same day procedures over a nine month period in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, leading to an estimated 143,071 fewer services provided in 2020.
- An estimated 1,437 people lost vision due to delayed eye examinations and delayed treatment (injections or surgeries) in 2020. Given the average annual cost of a case of vision loss is $27,250, delayed examinations and treatment means that the incremental costs from vision loss may be $39.1 million higher each year compared to pre-pandemic.
- The backlog of services is likely to impose significant costs for individuals with sight threatening eye disease. In part, these costs occur due to increased risk of falls and reduced quality of life while waiting and the need for more complex surgeries with potentially worse vision outcomes.
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