• Infectious Conjunctivitis During COVID-19

    By Jean Shaw
    Selected and Reviewed by Neil M. Bressler, MD, and Deputy Editors

    Journal Highlights

    JAMA Ophthalmology, January 2022

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    Ferres et al. evaluated whether public health interventions adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic could be correlated with internet searches and emergency department (ED) visits for infectious conjunctivitis. They found that searches for information on and ED visits for this highly communicable condition fell after public health measures like social distancing and travel restrictions were put into place.

    For this study, the researchers gathered ED data from the University of Washington in Seattle for diagnoses of conjunctivitis made between February 2015 and February 2021. They also collected Google search and mobility data for the United States from Feb. 21, 2016, to Feb. 6, 2021. The ED and Google data were analyzed using a counterfactual control method, with the goal of building a model to show what would have happened if there had been no COVID-related lockdowns or changes in behavior.

    Results showed that, shortly after pandemic-related infection control measures were instituted in March 2020, online searches about conjunctivitis dropped by approximately 34%. This trend was corroborated by a 37% decrease in the number of patients who presented to the University of Washington’s ED for conjunctivitis treatment. In contrast, search data and ED visits related to noncommunicable ophthalmic conditions—including corneal abrasions—did not change during the pandemic. (Also see related commentary by Alfred Sommer, MD, MHS, in the same issue.)

    The original article can be found here.