OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to examine the clinical and demographic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on emergency department admissions to a tertiary eye care hospital.
METHODS: Records of admissions to the ophthalmology emergency department during the pre-pandemic period (Group 1) and pandemic period (Group 2) were retrospectively reviewed to cover the period between March 15, 2019, and March 15, 2021. Application numbers, demographic characteristics of patients were recorded. The cases were grouped by age, sex and diagnoses, and the findings were compared within and between the groups.
RESULTS: A total of 161, 941 patients (Group 1: 103, 178 and Group 2: 58, 763) were admitted to the emergency depart-ment of our hospital within 2 years. All admission diagnoses were significantly lower in the pandemic period than in the pre-pandemic period (p=0.001). However, the rate of sight-threatening cases or cases requiring urgent treatment (retinal diseases, uveitis, etc.) was significantly higher in the pandemic period than in the pre-pandemic period (p=0.001). The most common admission diagnoses were ocular infectious/inflammatory diseases while the foreign body on the ocular surface/ocular trauma group was second. Admissions for allergic and infectious diseases were significantly less during the pandemic period (p=0.001 and p=0.002, respectively). In both periods, the number of admissions of male patients was significantly higher than that of females. The most frequent applicant age group was the 1740 years age group.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: This observational study reveals the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in ocular emergency ad-missions. The data from our study may be helpful in planning healthcare delivery during and after the pandemic period.