NEBRASKA ACADEMY OF EYE PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS

STATEMENT ON OPHTHALMIC CARE DURING COVID-19 VIRAL PANDEMIC

The Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons (NAEPS) recognizes that we are entering a time of great uncertainty.  Our state and nation are being forced, by circumstances outside of ourselves, to make very difficult changes to our professional and personal lives.  It will be challenging to endure, but endure we must, and shall.  We will fight our way through these times as a strong group of professionals, in solidarity for our patients and our communities.

To that end, we wish to provide guidance to our colleagues that is based on the latest actions and directives provided by government entities and large medical systems.  The Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons strongly endorses the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the Nebraska Medical Association regarding medical and ophthalmic practice.  The AAO statement has been endorsed by all major ophthalmic subspecialty societies including the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons, American Glaucoma Society, American Society of Retina Specialists, American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Retina Society, American Society of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society and Women in Ophthalmology.

These statements currently recommend the stoppage of all elective surgical cases, and the cancelling of all “routine” eye and medical visits.  NAEPS, in its evaluation of AAO and other subspecialty societies’ guidelines, views appropriate encounters to be ANY patient encounter where there is a time-sensitive threat of permanent vision loss (urgent and emergent patients).  Thus, we officially recommend the following for deciding when to see ophthalmic patients or to operate on them:

  • Any patient that complains of a significant change in vision, and/or significant pain.
  • Any patient that requires time-sensitive treatment or evaluation that will prevent currently active disease from leading to permanent vision loss.
  • Any patient that has a known eminent threat of permanent vision or organ loss.

We must remember that in the end, we are physicians first.  We have taken an oath to protect our patients and our communities as an extension.  The guidelines above serve to slow the rate of spread of COVID-19 and give our medical system a chance to avoid being overwhelmed as this virus makes its way through the population.

We, as physicians, have a moral and ethical duty to comply.  We will endure, and we will thrive together when this event has passed.  We are proud to represent the eye physicians and surgeons of the State of Nebraska and we seek to protect the health and life of every Nebraskan.