Intraoperative Complication Rates in Cataract Surgery After Resuming Surgery Following the COVID-19 Shutdown

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Clin Ophthalmol


PURPOSE: To evaluate surgeon performance and intraoperative complication rates of cataract surgery after resumption of elective surgeries following the operating room (OR) shutdown from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Subjective surgical experience is also evaluated.

METHODS: This is a retrospective comparative study which analyzes cataract surgeries performed at an inner city, tertiary academic center. Cataract surgeries were categorized into Pre-Shutdown (January 1-March 18, 2020), and Post-Shutdown, for all cases which occurred after surgeries resumed (May 11-July 31, 2020). No cases were performed between March 19 and May 10, 2020. Patients undergoing combined cataract and minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) were included, but MIGS complications were not counted as cataract complications. No other combined cataract-other ophthalmic surgeries were included. A survey was used to gather subjective surgeon experience.

RESULTS: A total of 480 cases (n=306 Pre-Shutdown and n=174 Post-Shutdown) were analyzed. Although there was a higher frequency of complex cataract surgeries performed Post-Shutdown (5.2% vs 21.3%; p

CONCLUSION: After the surgical hiatus due to COVID-19, significantly more complex cataract surgeries were reported and surgeons reported higher general anxiety level when first returning to the OR. Increased anxiety did not lead to higher surgical complications. This study provides a framework to understand surgical expectations and outcomes for patients whose surgeons faced a prolonged two-month hiatus from cataract surgery.

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