American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS)

Pandemic Will Leave Children With Less Access to Eye Care, New Survey Shows

Nation’s pediatric ophthalmologists struggle to survive the COVID-19 shutdown

Newswise — Pediatric ophthalmologists are a rarity in medicine. There are only about a thousand of them to serve America’s 75 million children. And as other physicians fled private practice for hospitals or have been gobbled up by private equity firms, most pediatric ophthalmologists remain in private practice. Unfortunately, the factors that make the specialty uncommon have also made pediatric ophthalmologists and their patients uncommonly vulnerable to the ravages of the COVID-19 shutdown. A survey conducted by the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) shows that pediatric specialists are struggling to keep their practices viable in the wake of the shutdown. As a result, children in America may suffer medical outcomes not anticipated in first-world countries.

AAPOS conducted the survey of its members in April, one month after the shutdown, to assess the effects of the pandemic on private and institutional pediatric ophthalmology practices. The results are sobering and portend access-of-care issues for children with blinding conditions and life-threatening diseases.

While all sectors of pediatric ophthalmology were affected by the reduction in patient volume, private practices were the hardest hit. Among the survey’s findings:

  • Practice revenue was only 13 percent of usual, across all practice types.
  • 10 percent were considering bankruptcy, nearly all of whom are in private practice.
  • More private practice physicians than employed hospital and academic physicians (27 percent vs. 7 percent) expressed plans to limit Medicaid patients.
  • 9 percent said they planned to retire earlier.

“This is an alarming, important and pivotal moment in the history of medicine,” said Shira L. Robbins, MD, professor of Ophthalmology at the Shiley Eye Institute, University of California-San Diego, who led the survey effort. “We appeal to the legislative bodies to support pediatric ophthalmologists to champion eye health and vision of our most valuable commodity – our children.”

Dr. Robbins stressed that pediatric ophthalmologists have limited access to federal financial assistance programs because the assistance is based on treating elderly Medicare patients, while other assistance programs have left many fixed practice expenses uncovered and only partially covered staff and physician salaries.

AAPOS conducted a follow-up survey in July to gauge the extent of the recovery since the initial shock of the April shutdown. While it shows some improvement, many pediatric ophthalmologists continue to struggle to remain in business. Dr. Robbins predicts that as the pandemic continues, so will the strain on the delivery of medical care. Among the topline results:

  • 3 percent of practices are closing permanently
  • At least twice as many practices plan to limit Medicaid compared with pre-COVID levels
  • 5.4 percent are considering or have declared bankruptcy
  • 42 percent feel their practice viability remains “day to day” with bankruptcy as a possible outcome
  • 52 percent experienced a salary reduction
  • 26 percent received less than $1,000 from the first round of assistance from Health and Human Services
  • 51 percent continue to operate with reduced staff compared to pre-COVID levels
  • 91 percent expect further staff reductions (up to 25 percent) following completion of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan requirements

“Pediatric ophthalmologists are rare medical subspecialists with the majority working in private practices,” said Kathy Lee, MD, PhD, president of AAPOS. “Without continued governmental financial support, many will not be able to sustain their practices contributing to an even greater access problem for children with eye problems.”

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. A global community of 32,000 medical doctors, we protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public. We innovate to advance our profession and to ensure the delivery of the highest-quality eye care. Our EyeSmart® program provides the public with the most trusted information about eye health. For more information, visit aao.org.

About the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus

The mission of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus is to promote the highest quality medical and surgical eye care worldwide for children and for adults with strabismus. For more information, visit aapos.org.

 




Filters close

Showing results

110 of 3817
Released: 30-Oct-2020 6:35 PM EDT
UCLA Health infectious disease experts tout critical role mask wearing plays in limiting spread of COVID-19
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences

With thousands of new cases logged daily and a vaccine to fight COVID-19 still in development, UCLA Health infectious disease experts are encouraging people to continue to wear masks as the best method of protecting against virus transmission.

Released: 30-Oct-2020 5:35 PM EDT
Surgeon General expects COVID-19 vaccine to be available by year’s end
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences

In a wide-ranging talk with UCLA Health physicians, Wednesday, Oct. 28, United States Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, MPH, addressed the politicization of the pandemic and the means of containing the spread of COVID-19. He also offered hope that a vaccine for the virus will be available by year’s end.

Released: 30-Oct-2020 4:15 PM EDT
Study shows myocarditis linked to COVID-19 not as common as believed
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center - New Orleans

A study conducted by Richard Vander Heide, MD, PhD, Professor and Director of Pathology Research at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, and Marc Halushka, MD, PhD, Professor of Pathology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, suggests myocarditis caused by COVID-19 may be a relatively rare occurrence.

access_time Embargo lifts in 2 days
Embargo will expire: 3-Nov-2020 11:00 AM EST Released to reporters: 30-Oct-2020 3:00 PM EDT

A reporter's PressPass is required to access this story until the embargo expires on 3-Nov-2020 11:00 AM EST The Newswise PressPass gives verified journalists access to embargoed stories. Please log in to complete a presspass application. If you have not yet registered, please Register. When you fill out the registration form, please identify yourself as a reporter in order to advance to the presspass application form.

Newswise: 247373_web.jpg
Released: 30-Oct-2020 2:30 PM EDT
Researcher develops app to reach Black community with COVID-19 information
University of Cincinnati

A University of Cincinnati cardiologist is partnering with researchers in St. Louis and rural Georgia to develop a smartphone app that will deliver COVID-19 information and education that is targeted toward Black communities.

Newswise: 247467_web.jpg
Released: 30-Oct-2020 1:55 PM EDT
SARS-CoV-2 might attack red marrow and block new erythrocytes formation
Far Eastern Federal University

Specialists from the Department of Fundamental Medicine of Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) with Russian and Japanese colleagues have probed into mechanisms of COVID-19 inside-the-body distribution linked to erythrocytes damaging. According to researchers, the virus might attack red marrow, thus being detrimental not only for erythrocytes in the bloodstream but also for the process of the formation of the new ones.

Released: 30-Oct-2020 12:40 PM EDT
Government of Canada awards $2.5M to McMaster University to support the COVID-19 border study with McMaster HealthLabs
McMaster University

McMaster University has been awarded $2.5 million from the Government of Canada to support the McMaster HealthLabs (MHL) Canadian International COVID-19 Surveillance Border Study at Toronto Pearson International Airport, being run in partnership with Air Canada and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA).

Released: 30-Oct-2020 12:00 PM EDT
5 Big Questions on Health Care and COVID-19
University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The coronavirus pandemic has once again thrust the unusual state of American health care into the spotlight. With a presidential election that could have a dramatic impact on the state of health care for millions on 3 November, Professor Vivian Riefberg considers the state of the industry.

Newswise: Infection by Confection: COVID-19 and the Risk of Trick-or-Treating
Released: 30-Oct-2020 11:05 AM EDT
Infection by Confection: COVID-19 and the Risk of Trick-or-Treating
University of California San Diego Health

Researchers determined that COVID-19 transmission risk via Halloween candies is low, even when they are handled by infected people, but handwashing and disinfecting collected sweets reduces risk even further.

Newswise:Video Embedded third-spike-in-covid-19-cases-plus-the-vaccine-trials-live-expert-panel-for-october-29-3pm-edt
VIDEO
Released: 30-Oct-2020 9:40 AM EDT
TRANSCRIPT AND VIDEO AVAILABLE: "Third spike" in COVID-19 cases, plus the vaccine trials: Live Expert Panel for October 29
Newswise

"Third spike" in COVID-19 cases, plus the vaccine trials: Live Expert Panel for October 29, 3PM EDT


Showing results

110 of 3817

close
1.09665