Skip to main content

Your Macular Degeneration Care and COVID-19

Macular degeneration patients might be worried about catching the Covid-19 coronavirus, or they might be concerned about how they would maintain their eye care during this pandemic. The AMDF’s (American Macular Degeneration Foundation) and American Academy of Ophthalmology’s experts have gathered the subsequent information for patients of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

What to Expect at The Clinic

To ensure the safety of the patients, AMD clinics are enforcing social distancing and taking precautions that aim to reduce the potential transmission of the virus. Although different clinics would have different types of protocols, these protocols are mostly variations of the following general guidelines:

  • Rescheduling of standard patient visits
  • Delaying any elective surgery
  • Asking patients who are over 60 years and who don’t have any urgent visual problems to stay at home
  • Allowing fewer patients to wait in the waiting room
  • Disinfecting surfaces regularly
  • Having a patient wash his/her hand instantly when he/she arrives
  • Making wearing of gloves and masks must for the staff members
  • Having nurses and doctors wear oral and ocular shields during close examinations to prevent any transfer of the virus
  • Telling the patients that during the examinations the ophthalmologist won’t speak much and asking the patients to also abstain from talking during the examinations

Other Preventive Measures at The Clinics:

  • Asking patients who have symptoms like allergy, flu, and cold to stay at home
  • Entering patients would be screened by a sentry at the door of the clinic
  • Patients who might have a travel history or the ones whose family members have a travel history would be screened
  • Asking those patients who have any symptoms related to respiratory disease to wear a surgical mask
  • Staff members and patients are to be referred to their fundamental care provider if they have a temperature of more than 99.5
  • Postponing the visits of those patients who have been sick, who had in some way contact with the novel virus or those who have lately travelled abroad
  • Allowing only one visitor to accompany the patients
  • Requesting those people who might be accompanying the patient to stay outside the building, when the patient would depart, they would be contacted through cell phone
  • Chairs in the waiting room would be put six feet apart
  • Beverage areas and magazines would be removed from the waiting room

What Can You do During This Pandemic to Maintain the Health of Your Vision

Patients who have dry, early AMD should postpone their non-urgent visits to the doctor, they should continue to make healthy lifestyle selections and they should maintain their home monitoring. These patients should use the Amsler Grid at home every once a week to monitor any changes in their vision. In these challenging times, patients must maintain contact with their doctors, and if they feel any change in their vision, they should immediately report it to their physician.
If your doctor advises the supplements which contain zeaxanthin and lutein, you should keep on taking them, and together with these supplements, you should maintain a healthy diet for your eye, this would also improve your general health. If for your AMD you are taking supplements which contain zinc and you also start taking additional zinc tablets for the prevention of flu or cold, you might be creating zinc toxicity, says the AMDF’s ophthalmologist and spokesperson. So before taking any extra zinc tablets, you should check with your doctor because it is possible that the supplements you are taking for your age-related macular degeneration might be supplying more than enough zinc for your immune system as well.

Some Questions Patients of AMD Ask Due to the Current Situation

I am a patient of dry macular degeneration, and recently my vision has suddenly changed. I am also in an area with a high risk of COVID-19. So, should I visit my doctor now?
If you have a similar case, call your doctor on the phone and discuss changes in your vision with him/her, if there is any kind of emergency, he/she will let you know. You and your doctor would decide the urgency of the situation and, after that, determine whether you need to get yourself checked at the clinic or not.
I talked to my eye doctor over the phone about the sudden change in my vision, and they think it’s essential that I should visit the clinic to get myself checked. As I am at a high-risk of the coronavirus, I am worried if I would be safe or not. So, what should I do in this situation?
Extreme precautionary measures are taking place at almost every AMD clinic. Most of the non-essential appointments have been cancelled, which means there would be very few people in one room at a time. If your doctor feels it’s urgent to get your self examined at the office, you should ask him/her about the precautionary actions they are taking to reduce the risk of spread and exposure to the COVID-19.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology’s spokesperson says that you shouldn’t just assume that all the clinics are closed due to the current pandemic. One should check with his/her doctor. Some areas are indeed at a higher risk than others, but still, most clinics are open, and they are doing their jobs in the safest possible manner. As mentioned before, every clinic has its own protocols which are variations of the general guidelines, so you shouldn’t worry if they differ slightly from the guideline mentioned above.
If you are extremely concerned about your safety and you want to maintain appropriate social distancing, you can ask them if they have a private area other than the crowded waiting room, or you can make a request that they should contact you via cell phone while you wait for your appointment in your car, in this case, when you would arrive you would have to inform them that you are waiting somewhere near the clinic. But keep in mind that not all clinics will oblige to these special kinds of requests.