• Comprehensive Ophthalmology, Pediatric Ophth/Strabismus

    A weekly roundup of ophthalmic news from around the web.

    Strabismus leaves children more vulnerable to mental illness. Researchers reviewed data from a US private insurance claims database to investigate possible links between pediatric strabismus and mental illness disorders. Of the 12,005,189 study participants (median age 8.0 years), 2.9% were diagnosed with strabismus, but this group had a significantly greater likelihood of having anxiety disorder (odds ratio [OR] 2.01), schizophrenia (OR 1.83), bipolar disorder (OR 1.63), and depressive disorder (OR 1.61) than the cohort without strabismus. This was true regardless of whether the child had esotropia, exotropia, or hypertropia. Because children with mental illness disorders are severely undertreated, the authors recommend that ophthalmologists “consider incorporating a screening tool for mental health problems for patients with strabismus and referral of pediatric patients with strabismus for mental health evaluation.” JAMA Ophthalmology

    Volunteering in a service-learning program helps medical students gain confidence in ophthalmology skills. What can ophthalmology service activities provide beyond what’s offered in traditional medical school programs? Johns Hopkins University’s Vision Screening In Our Neighborhoods (JHU ViSION) Program, run by volunteer medical students, holds community eye screening events every 1–2 months during the academic year and is a way for students to get real-life training in conducting screening exams. One hundred eighteen medical school students were surveyed about their self-confidence in ophthalmology clinical skills and knowledge. Nearly 46% of the volunteers reported wanting to pursue a career in ophthalmology following graduation, vs. 7% of non-volunteers, and similar disparities were seen in plans to apply for an ophthalmology residency, engagement with the ophthalmology curriculum, and confidence in ophthalmology clinical skills. Volunteers also said they felt a connection with an underserved population in the community. Programs like JHU ViSION can therefore play an important role in ophthalmology education. BMC Medical Education

    An academic ophthalmology department reviews how it met the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers from the department of ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Scheie Eye Institute recently shared their strategies for addressing the clinical and practical challenges faced during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic (March–October 2020). Strategies that proved effective included frequent communication among faculty and staff, implementation of key metrics (e.g., patient volume and waiting room time), extending patient access to clinicians on evenings and weekends, applying for more grants to mitigate financial losses, and developing virtual learning programs for medical students. The department saw clinical and surgical volumes return to pre-pandemic levels by October 2020, and no COVID-19 transmissions were reported among faculty, staff, students, or patients. As the pandemic moves into its 3rd year, these strategies should continue to be useful for academic ophthalmology departments. Clinical Ophthalmology