Health care restrictions due to COVID-19 had no negative effects on status of DME

The data analysis showed that the macular thickness decreased across all time periods and in all macular regions for all tertiles.

Bryce Johnson, BS, and associates from the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, found that to their surprise diabetic macular edema (DME), a leading cause of vision loss, was not negatively impacted by the changes imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because a healthy lifestyle is key to prevention of progression of DME, they conducted a retrospective chart review to assess the impact of truncated medical services during the pandemic.

The study includes 570 patients who had been diagnosed with DME between January 2019 and July 2021.

The parameters studied were hemoglobin A1c, body mass index, adherence to scheduled appointments, and need for therapy.

The data analysis showed that the macular thickness decreased across all time periods and in all macular regions for all tertiles. Most of the macular regions showed some decrease in the macular thickness, the results showed.

Stratification of the patients based on the patient adherence to scheduled appointments did not significantly change the results.

“The DME did not worsen during the pandemic, and instead we saw a small but significant improvement,” they commented.

They hypothesized that more positive lifestyle changes during the pandemic, delays in retinal changes, and implementation of telehealth evaluation may be possible explanations for the study findings.