When the World Health Organization (Who) announced Covid-19 as a worldwide pandemic in March 2020, routine healthcare appointments were avoided to prevent patients from contracting the virus, and ophthalmology services were particularly impacted. Many procedures are elective and most patients are elderly and at risk of suffering from Covid-19 symptoms. As such, GlobalData estimates that a 70% reduction in procedure volumes occurred in Q2 2020. This led to a loss in revenue and the temporary or permanent closure of single ophthalmic practice institutions. This closure of ophthalmic healthcare centres will lead to an increased risk of vision impairment and permanent vision loss in patients who are in immediate need of treatment.
After Q2 2020 many medical centres and practices began to reopen, which resulted in an increase in patient volumes. While the adoption of telecommunication and modified face-to-face appointments allowed for a small number of procedures to continue during the peak of the pandemic, major backlogs have developed for other procedures such as cataract surgeries. This in turn negatively impacted the sales of intraocular lenses (IOLs), femtosecond lasers and viscoelastic devices.
As the pandemic continues with an anticipated ‘third wave,’ ophthalmologists are working hard to reduce the backlog of procedures while adhering to safety protocols. The Covid-19 pandemic may lead to a long-term change in how ophthalmology procedures are carried out, with more occurring in ambulatory surgical centres or specialised ophthalmic surgery clinics as opposed to larger medical centres.
The ophthalmic viscoelastic devices (OVD) market suffered revenue losses of 17.3% in 2020, as the market largely depends on cataract and glaucoma surgeries. Deferral of elective procedures to contain the spread of the virus led to a decline in OVD sales during the first half of 2020. As healthcare centres and hospitals resumed elective procedures in Q3 2020, demand for OVDs surged. With many procedures rescheduled for 2021, GlobalData expects that the market will recover losses by the end of the year. The market trend for intraocular lenses in 2020 was very similar, with a year-over-year (YOY) decline in revenue of 17.3%.
The ophthalmic lasers market saw a significant downturn in the second and third quarters of 2020 with the rise in the number of Covid-19 cases and cancellation or deferral of elective procedures. Lockdown and stringent procedure guidelines restricted the supply of lasers internationally. However, as elective surgeries resumed in the second half of 2020, there was increased demand for lasers with a corresponding increase in sales. From the beginning of Q4 2020, there has been a steady recovery, such that YOY sales were down only 7.2%. This recovery has continued throughout Q1 2021. With a constant recovery in the upcoming quarters, GlobalData expects the market to fully recover from previous losses by the end of 2021. The market trend for glaucoma surgery devices in 2020 was very similar, with a YOY decline of 7.5% in revenue.