Cataract surgery during the Covid-19 pandemic

People with cataracts may experience gradual blurring of vision, seeing glares at night which worsens progressively, and change in colour perception. These symptoms can also present in other eye conditions with varying degree of urgency. It can be as mild as eye fatigue, or as serious (and urgent) as a retinal detachment. Hence, it is advisable to see an eye doctor as soon as you can, if you experience any changes to your vision.

Between April and June 2020, Singapore underwent a period of circuit breaker (CB) to contain the spread of Covid-19. During this period, non-essential businesses and services were disallowed.

Eye centres remained open during the CB for urgent eye services. Non-essential or non-urgent eye services including general eye screening, laser vision correction (LASIK) and cataract surgery for stable cataracts were put on hold.

It has been a few months since Singapore lifted the CB. Businesses have reopened and resumed non-essential services and surgery including cataract surgery.

When is the best time for cataract surgery?

The time for cataract surgery is dependent on:

  • The impact of the cataracts on daily visual function
  • The impact of the cataracts on the overall health of the eye
  • The rate of vision loss
lights-and-cataract graphic

1 Cataracts and daily visual function

The ophthalmologist may recommend surgery if he deems a patient’s ability to carry out daily tasks (such as driving, reading, work and hobbies) to be severely compromised.

2 Cataracts and overall health of the eye

The eye can have more than one problem. A possible scenario is that a patient can have cataracts together with primary angle closure, where the space in the front part of eye internally is narrow. This can occur naturally, unrelated to any condition, and as such, there is a risk of pressure build up in the eye if the cataracts continue to progress and thicken as they become cloudier. If the pressure in the eye gets too high, acute angle closure glaucoma can occur and cause rapid loss of vision. If so, the ophthalmologist may recommend cataract surgery as soon as possible to prevent the loss of vision.

3 Rate of vision loss

The ophthalmologist will ascertain how rapidly the vision is decreasing. Cataract surgery may be recommended as soon as possible should the vision decrease so rapidly that visual function is considered unsafe to carry out daily activities.

Since the lifting of CB, cataract surgery has resumed with additional safety precautions in place:

  • Keeping a 1-metre safe distance between individuals and wearing a mask. 
  • Hospitals require all visitors to complete a Safe Entry check-in and health declaration form before entering the premises. 
  • Two days before cataract surgery, you will be advised to instil antibiotic eyedrops to prep the eye for surgery. Follow your doctor’s advice on the use of post-op medication, and to attend follow-up reviews.  
  • Should you be feeling unwell including having symptoms of flu, cough, sore throat, fever, and loss of sense of smell, please inform your doctor immediately. 

At Atlas Eye, we perform a series of tests to assess for cataracts, which include:

  • Visual acuity and intraocular pressure check
  • Manifest refraction
  • Pupil dilation
  • Video and face-to-face counselling
  • Detailed eye examination by the eye surgeon

If you are experiencing blurring of vision, please contact us at +65 6737 9119 for a cataract assessment. Alternatively, you may also email us at atlaseye@atlaseye.sg.