Cataract is a significant cause of preventable blindness in the United Kingdom and worldwide. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, cataract surgery was the most commonly performed operation by the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. The aim of this study is to evaluate the safety of elective cataract surgery performed in the United Kingdom in a COVID-19 free hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Single centre prospective observational cohort study of consecutive patients undergoing elective cataract surgery in the United Kingdom over a 3 month period from May to August 2020. Electronic medical records were reviewed and patients were contacted at 30 days post-operatively. Data collection included symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 infection, hospital admission, mortality, intra-operative and post-operative surgical complications.
A total of 649 elective cataract surgeries were performed. Two patients (0.3%) developed worsening dyspnoea during the 30 day post-operative period, but tested negative for COVID-19 infection. Three patients (0.5%) were hospitalised, unrelated to COVID-19 infection, of which one patient (0.2%) passed. Four patients (0.6%) suffered posterior capsular rupture. 601 (93.2%) had no post-operative complications.
This study demonstrates a safe model for the resumption of elective cataract surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing strict infection control measures are in place.