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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 68  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 999-1004

The impact of COVID-19 related lockdown on ophthalmology training programs in India – Outcomes of a survey

1 Regional Institute of Ophthalmology, Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Ophthalmic Plastic and Ocular Oncology Services, Advanced Eye Hospital and Institute, A Unit of Dr. Agarwal's Eye Hospitals, Sanpada; Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital, Wadala, Mumbai, India
3 Foresight International, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
4 Community Eye Care Foundation, Dr. Gogate's Eye Clinic, Pune; Padmashri D.Y. Patil Medical College, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Maharashtra, India; School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen's University, Belfast, United Kingdom
5 Hi-Tech Eye Institute and Laser Centre, Kashipur, Uttarakhand, India
6 Regional Institute of Ophthalmology, Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Sheikhpura, Patna, Bihar, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Akshay Gopinathan Nair
Ophthalmic Plastic and Ocular Oncology Services, Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital, Wadala, Mumbai, Maharashtra - 400 031
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_1067_20

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Purpose: In 2020, in response to the emergence and global spread of the disease COVID-19, caused by a new variant of coronavirus 2019-nCoV, the government of India ordered a nationwide lockdown for 21 days, which was then extended to a total of over 50 days. The aim of this study is to assess the effect of the lockdown on ophthalmic training programs across India. Methods: An online survey was sent across to trainee ophthalmologists across India through various social media platforms. Results: In all, 716 trainees responded; the average age was 29.1 years. Results showed that majority of the respondents were enrolled in residency programs (95.6%; 685/716) and the others were in fellowship programs. About 24.6% (176/716) of the trainees had been deployed on 'COVID-19 screening' duties. Nearly 80.7% (578/716) of the trainees felt that the COVID-19 lockdown had negatively impacted their surgical training. Furthermore, 54.8% (392/716) of the trainees perceived an increase in stress levels during the COVID-19 lockdown and 77.4% (554/716) reported that their family members had expressed an increased concern for their safety and wellbeing since the lockdown began. In all, 75.7% (542/716) of the respondents felt that online classes and webinars were useful during the lockdown period. Conclusion: Our survey showed that majority ophthalmology trainees across the country felt that the COVID-19 lockdown adversely affected their learning, especially surgical training. While most found online classes and webinars useful, the trainees' perceived stress levels were higher than normal during the lockdown. Training hospitals should take cognizance of this and reassure trainees; formulate guidelines to augment training to compensate for the lost time as well as mitigate the stress levels upon resumption of regular hospital services and training. Going ahead, permanent changes such as virtual classrooms and simulation-based training should be considered.

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