As we know, the treatment of uveitis requires systemic treatment in the form of steroids and immunosuppressive therapy. In these times of Coronavirus Pandemic, with hospitals only available for emergencies, you need to be aware of certain dos and don’t when you’re on treatment for uveitis.

What are the typical risk factors for COVID-19 infection?

  1. Age > 50 years. This population is at a greater risk because of age-related debilitation of the immune system. Also, because this group is more likely to have multiple chronic illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure.
  2. Heart disease, diseases of the pulmonary system/ lungs and obesity.
  3. Travel history to countries with high prevalence or contact with such persons.
  4. Smoking
  5. History of infection while on systemic immunosuppressive treatment.

What are the precautions that patients with autoimmune uveitis who are on systemic immunosuppressive therapy must take?

Patients who are on immunosuppressive therapy know that their doctor regularly monitors their blood counts. This practice must be continued and blood counts should be monitored at least once in 3 months. If the total white cell count is above 4000, there is no additional risk for acquiring the COVID-19 infection.

Before starting the immunosuppressive therapy, your doctor would have explained about protecting yourself from infections by practicing strict personal hygiene. In these times of Coronavirus pandemic here is a list of dos and don’ts to avoid getting infected:

  1. Do not start or stop your medication or change the dosage on your own. Please take your medicine as prescribed by your doctor.
  2. Practice strict hand and personal hygiene. Keep washing your hands frequently with soap and water.
  3. Avoid crowds as much as possible. Wear a mask if required, especially if there are sick people around.
  4. Keep a distance of at least 2 metres to practice social distancing.
  5. Stay at home and do not leave the house until absolutely necessary.
  6. Sanitize or wash your hand immediately after using transaction machines for public use or wear gloves.
  7. If your eye becomes red, painful and vision seems blurry, meet your doctor immediately or call the hospital number to get in touch.
  8. Contact the doctor immediately if you have any symptoms of cough, fever, runny nose.
  9. Do NOT use ibuprofen.
  10. Stay away from rumours and do not self medicate.
Dr Abhilasha Baharani

Dr Abhilasha Baharani

DNB FRCS (Glasg) FICO Uvea & Cataract Specialist at Neoretina
Dr. Abhilasha Baharani is a specialist in Uveitis and Ocular inflammation. Her areas of expertise are Uveitis & Ocular Immunology- management of ocular tuberculosis, immunosuppressive therapy for non-infectious uveitis & scleritis, phacoemulsification in small pupil, complicated cataracts and ocular manifestations of systemic diseases. She studied MBBS at Kasturba Medical College Mangalore and DNB at Aravind Eye Hospital & Post-Graduate Institute of Ophthalmology, Tirunelveli. She did her fellowship in Uveitis & Ocular Inflammation at Aravind Eye Hospital & Post-Graduate Institute of Ophthalmology, Madurai and a second fellowship in Ocular Inflammatory Disease in Vitreoretinal Disorders at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, Dublin, Ireland where she became well-versed with newer immunosuppressive agents and use of biologic blockers. She is a member of the International Ocular Inflammation Society and is an active member of the state and national academic societies. She has received the Carl Herbort Award for her research paper at the Uveitis Society of India Annual Meeting in 2012 and Award of Distinction and Award of Merit for her research papers at the International Ophthalmology Congress- Innovations and Challenges in Glaucoma & Uveitis, Singapore, 2014.
Dr Abhilasha Baharani