The COVID-19 Pandemic and Ophthalmic Care: A Qualitative Study of Patients with Neovascular Age-Related Macular Degeneration (nAMD)

MONARCH Study Group, Sean R O'Connor*, Charlene Treanor, Elizabeth Ward, Robin A Wickens, Abby J O'Connell, Chris A Rogers, Eleanor A Gidman, Tunde Peto, Paul Knox, Benjamin J.L. Burton , Andrew Lotery, Sobha Sivaprasad, Barnaby C Reeves, Ruth E. Hogg, Michael Donnelly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


Concerns have been expressed about the relationship between reduced levels of health care utilisation and the COVID-19 pandemic. This study aimed to elicit and explore the views of patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and their ophthalmic care. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with thirty-five patients with nAMD taking part in a larger diagnostic accuracy study of home-monitoring tests. Participants were recruited using maximum variation sampling to capture a range of key characteristics including age, gender and time since initial treatment. Transcribed interview data were analysed using a deductive and inductive thematic approach. Three themes emerged from the analysis: i. access to eye clinic care. ii. COVID-19-mitigating factors and care delivery and iii. social and personal circumstances. Participants reported anxieties about cancelled or delayed appointments, limited communication from clinic-based services about appointments, and the impact of this on their ongoing care. Despite these concerns, there was apprehension about attending appointments due to infection risk and a perception that nAMD patients are a ‘high risk’ group. Views of those who attended clinics during the study period were, however, positive, with social distancing and infection control measures providing reassurance. These findings contribute to our understanding about experiences of patients with nAMD during the COVID-19 pandemic and may have potential implications for future planning of care services in similar circumstances. Innovative approaches may be required to address issues related to access to care, including concerns about delayed or cancelled appointments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9488
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research, Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme (ref 15/97/02). The views and opinions are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect the HTA programme, NIHR, NHS or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Funding Information:
The study is sponsored by The Queen’s University of Belfast, UK. This study was designed and delivered in collaboration with the Clinical Trials and Evaluation Unit (CTEU), a UKCRC registered clinical trials unit which, as part of the Bristol Trials Centre, is in receipt of National Institute for Health Research CTU support funding. The authors would like to acknowledge the Patient and Public Involvement group (PPI), the Macular Society and the Royal National Institute of Blind People for feedback on the study and the patient documents and the SSC for their oversight of the study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.

Structured keywords

  • BTC (Bristol Trials Centre)


  • COVID-19
  • patient perspective
  • ophthalmic care
  • qualitative methods


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