INTRODUCTION: To compare the number of intravitreal anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) injections performed during 2020 with that in the same period in 2019.
METHODS: The study investigated anti-VEGF injections performed in 2019 and 2020. Injections performed on 923 eyes of 858 patients were evaluated. The patients were treated for diabetic macular edema (DME), age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and retinal vein occlusion (RVO). Injections, new cases, and patients who either completed or did not complete three loading doses in 2019 and 2020 were first compared. The same comparisons were then performed between the pandemic period in 2020 and the same period in 2019.
RESULTS: While 2070 injections were performed on 670 eyes in 2019, 1478 injections were applied to 253 eyes in 2020 (p=0.001). The number of naive eyes was 163 in 2019 and 83 in 2020. During the pandemic period in 2020, 967 injections were performed on 181 eyes, compared with 1721 injections on 532 eyes in the same period in 2019 (p=0.001). While 86.5% of patients completed three injections in 2020, the rate was 78.9% for the same period in 2019 (p=0.025).
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: The COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant decrease in the number of patients presenting to the hospital, and delays occurred in treatment protocols. However, patients admitted to the hospital during this period adapted better to the loading doses. In conclusion, the pandemic caused significant disruption to treatment, and this will inevitably result in anatomical and functional worsening in the eye.