American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Clinical Updates

Do the Eyes Have It? Update from ACS Advisory Council for Ophthalmic Surgery on COVID-19 Impact

We are all still trying to come to grips with COVID-19 and to make short-term and long-term plans—it would be nice to know if a second or third wave will activate our contingencies.

In the meantime, ophthalmologists are discerning the best way to safely see patients. Ophthalmologists may be at higher risk of contracting the virus because of close exposure to the eyes, nose, and mouths of patients. Like head and neck surgery, ophthalmic oculofacial specialists work in the periorbital nose and sinuses. The American Academy of Ophthalmology notes 16 COVID-related deaths of ophthalmologists, with three from the U.S.

Ophthalmology is typically practiced in high-volume outpatient settings; a busy office can see 100 patients a day. For the foreseeable future, given the required infection control measures, this volume is likely unattainable. We are working on ways to maintain throughput while social distancing and to keep our patients and employees safe. Some of these new ideas will likely pay dividends down the road, making our practices better in the long run. The AAO and American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery organizations have developed thoughtful guidelines to assist in these efforts.

Read NEJM Perspectives Article on Embracing Antiracism in Medicine

2020 has given rise to a new understanding of the devastating effect that racism has on Black lives in the U.S., and a new Perspectives Article from the New England Journal of Medicine, "Beyond a Moment—Reckoning with Our History and Embracing Antiracism in Medicine," suggests that it is the moral responsibility for health care professionals and institutions to respond to the public health issue that structural racism represents.

Co-authored by Andre Campbell, MD, FACS, FACP, FCCM, Secretary of the ACS Board of Governors Executive Committee, this article discusses how the field of medicine has been slow to respond to the clear evidence that racism is a public health crisis. The authors discuss historical examples of how the suffering of White communities, through substance abuse epidemics or gun violence, are responded to with medical focus, funding, and compassion, while the same health issues in Black communities are rarely afforded the same due attention.

The authors write, "We believe our health professions colleagues, societies, and systems need to go beyond declarations—that each must review its own history, structures, workforces, and policies in an approach dedicated to truth and reconciliation and that we must all proactively engage in the battle against structural racism and health inequities to bring about a new era of antiracism in medicine." It is only through these actions that health equality for all racial groups is possible.

Read the full article.