INTRODUCTION: To report the effects of the stay-at-home policy on requests for ophthalmology outpatient clinic visits at a secondary care hospital during the COVID-19 outbreak.
METHODS: March 11, 2020, was the date on which the first confirmed coronavirus case was reported in Turkey and was therefore selected as the boundary date in the design of this study. All applications with urgent and non-urgent complaints were made to a secondary care hospital during the two months duration during the pandemic curfew period in 2020 and the same date interval in 2019 (March 11, 2019 – May 11, 2019) were examined retrospectively using the hospital’s automation system.
RESULTS: Of the patients who participated in the study, 7.6% (n = 512) were aged between 0 and 18 years, 62.2% (n = 4190) were between 18 and 65 years. The number/ratio of patients who visited the hospital during the pandemic period between the ages of 0–18 years and 65 years and older were found to be statistically significantly lower than the non-pandemic period (P < 0.001). The rate of patients who applied to the hospital during the pandemic period with an urgent eye complaint was statistically significantly higher than that of the non-pandemic period (P < 0.001; odds ratio = 3.7).
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: The spectrum of ophthalmic conditions that led individuals to request ophthalmology outpatient clinic visits was similar during both periods; however, certain age groups showed decreased application rates during the pandemic period. The application of conjunctivitis cases significantly increased during the pandemic period.