Introduction
In a cataract, the vision of the eyes become blurry due to the opacification of the lens. Cataract is a second major cause of visual impairment and preventable blindness. Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures to improve vision and prevent blindness across the world.
Average monthly cataract surgeries performed in India are over 5 lakhs. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sudden cancellation in surgical procedures has created significant backlogs in cataract surgery.
Does Cataract Surgery Have A Risk Of Covid-19 Exposure?
It is necessary to understand how the coronavirus can infect you. A virus can infect you in two ways. One way is by inhaling the aerosols produced during coughing or sneezing by an infected person. Another way of spreading the virus is when a person touches the nose, eyes or mouth with infected hands. Wearing masks, avoiding touching the face and practising hand hygiene can lower the risk of contracting COVID-19.

In cataract surgery, there is no or minimal aerosol production. The patient’s face is covered with a sterile drape during the surgery. Further, the surgeons take all the precautions as per the surgical protocol of COVID-19, such as wearing personal protective equipment. The surgery takes around 10-15 minutes, and thus, the exposure time to acquire infection is low. Hence, the risk of getting infected through the covid 19 virus is less during surgery.
When To Have Cataract Surgery In Current Pandemic
Cataract is a progressive condition which means the clouding of your lens will increase over time. The timing of surgery would depend on the functional level of the lens. Unless the vision of the patients gets severely compromised, delaying surgery has no increment in risk. Your doctor will evaluate the condition of your lens in context with your risk that may occur due to your daily activities such as driving, reading and cooking etc. .
The doctor will do a complete vision examination and decide when is the right time to do the surgery and how much a surgeon can restore the vision by removing the cataract. In some cases, delaying the cataract may result in permanent vision loss leading to blindness. Take the advice of an expert ophthalmologist whom you can trust.
People can delay cataract progression by wearing sunglasses to prevent eyes from ultraviolet rays. The patient should stop smoking and start consuming green vegetables, fruits and food that have antioxidant properties. A person should have controlled diabetes and Blood pressure. A regular eye examination can also help to avoid surgery during the covid 19 pandemic.
Measures To Follow While Taking Cataract Treatment
You should always follow the COVID-19 precautionary measures, i.e., at the doctor’s clinic and before and after the cataract surgery. You may also have the option for telemedicine to consult with your doctor.

At the doctor’s clinic
The patient should fix an appointment for a consultation to reduce the time for waiting. He should wear a mask and gloves to prevent physical contact to any surface in the clinic. The patient should use digital payment modes to avoid unnecessary physical contact. He should avoid talking to other patients. Reduce the baggage to the clinic prevents exposure to the infected surface. The patient should maintain social distancing while seated in the clinic. After surgery, the patient can consult with the consulting doctor through telemedicine to reduce the chance of getting exposure to other patients in the outpatient clinic.

Before and after the cataract surgery
The patient should wear a mask before entering the diagnostic room. He should use a hand sanitiser provided by the hospital. Its use is compulsory for both patient and health care worker. Only one patient should be allowed along with an attendee into the diagnostic room. Cleaning of all instruments in the diagnostic area is necessary before the examination .The patient is advised not to touch any surface in the premises of the clinic.

Option for telemedicine
Telemedicine is an excellent option to maintain social distancing and seeking advice from your ophthalmologist. It results in decreasing physical contact and reduces cross-infection among patients and health care personnel. It reduces unnecessary gatherings and reduces the risk of infection.
Conclusion
Cataract surgery is an elective surgery. However, sometimes, the prolonged, untreated cataract may result in compromised vision. Cataract surgery, if done with all the COVID-19 safety protocols, is safe, and in cataract operation the generation of aerosols is negligible. Patients should consult over the phone with the ophthalmologist, whenever possible, to reduce the risk of COVID-19. Patient after cataract surgery should avoid contact with other people and minimize travel.

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