Trends in cataract surgery and healthcare system response during the COVID-19 lockdown in Malaysia: Lessons to be learned.

Publication date: Jun 01, 2024

Elective surgeries were suspended during the national lockdown in March 2020 to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia. We sought to evaluate the impact of the lockdown on cataract surgeries and suggest lessons for future outbreaks. We conducted an interrupted time series analysis to examine rates of cataract surgery before and during the lockdown. We used national cataract surgical data between 2015 and 2021 from the Malaysian Cataract Surgery Registry. Segmented regression with a seasonally adjusted Poisson model was used for the analysis. Stratified analyses were performed to establish whether the effect of the lockdown on cataract surgeries varied by hospital designation, type of cataract service, sex, and age groups. Cataract surgeries began falling in March 2020 at the onset of the lockdown, reached a trough in April 2020, and subsequently increased but never recovered to pre-lockdown levels. Cataract surgical rates in December 2021 were still 43 % below the expected surgical volume, equivalent to 2513 lost cataract surgeries. There was no evidence of a differential effect of the lockdown between COVID-19 designated and non-COVID-19 designated hospitals. The relative decrease in cataract surgical rates appears to have been greatest in outreach services and in people 40 years and older. The lockdown caused an immediate reduction in cataract surgical rates to nearly half of its baseline rate. Despite its gradual recovery, further delays remain to be expected should there be no redistribution or increase in resources to support backlogs and incoming new cases.

Concepts Keywords
Covid Cataract surgery
Malaysian COVID-19
Seasonally Healthcare system
Surgery Interrupted time series
Segmented regression


Type Source Name
disease MESH cataract
disease MESH COVID-19
disease VO time
disease VO volume

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