Market Scope: COVID-19 Fallout Could Reshape Ophthalmology in India

Source: Market Scope

Market Scope estimates the total ophthalmic market in India in 2020 at $1.3 billion, with an optimistic assumption that the COVID-19 suspension of elective surgeries will last for 2 months or less. The firms forecasts a rapid return to 2019 levels of activity, resulting in an overall 25 percent reduction in elective procedures for the year compared with 2019.

In the short term, the fall in demand for such elective ophthalmic procedures as refractive surgery, dry eye procedures, or premium cataract surgery will extend past the end of the COVID-19 lockdown as layoffs and business closures hit people’s pocketbooks.

India began a nationwide ban on leaving home, except for essential activities, at midnight on March 25. Non-emergency medical procedures were indefinitely postponed, including most cataract, refractive, and dry eye procedures. Eye camps were canceled.

In the days that followed, many ophthalmologists in private practice stayed home. Ophthalmologists in public hospitals were reassigned to fever clinics, and some of them developed fevers themselves. Some hospitals were closed after many of the doctors and nurses became infected with COVID-19.

It is not known how long restrictions on movement and elective health care will last. The initial order was for 3 weeks, but elsewhere in Asia, Europe, and the Americas, governments typically found it necessary to extend restrictions on movement and businesses beyond the length of their initial orders. There is no reason to expect India to be immune from the pressures that compelled such extensions.

Hospitals are continuing to perform emergency procedures during the lockdown, but we expect the lack of transportation and supplies, the diversion of doctors to fever clinics, and the closure of many eye clinics will result in a small reduction of emergency procedures in glaucoma and retina, about 10 percent.

Clinic closures also will reduce the number of new patients diagnosed during the year. Market Scope reduced the incremental increase in diagnosed patients in retina and glaucoma by 25 percent in the revised forecast, which affects the pharmaceutical markets.

Intravitreal injections are considered an essential procedure. Clinics can continue to provide them during the lockdown, but in some jurisdictions they must get approval to do so on an individual patient basis. Market Scope estimates those hurdles, combined with the suspension of public transportation and efforts to stretch out the time between injections, will reduce the number of IVT injections performed during the year by 10 percent.

Market Scope’s “2020 India Ophthalmic Market Report” examines the wide-reaching impact of COVID-19 on this market. An appendix to the report examines how the market will be affected by a worse case, where shutdowns last for up to four months or there is a slow recovery of ophthalmic business. The report also discusses important trends and key factors for future success, and includes forecasts of disease prevalence, numbers of treatments, and technologies used in treatments.

Market Scope’s “2020 India Ophthalmic Market Report” was published in April.

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