Manitoba has biggest pandemic time reduction in eye surgeries: Doctors Manitoba


Manitoba’s eye surgery hub has seen the largest reduction in procedures in the country, and there is concern that the longer patients wait, the more complicated and expensive their treatment will be.

Dr. Jennifer Rahman, ophthalmologist and president of Eye Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba, said the province has seen a 46% reduction in cataract surgeries since March 2020 due to numerous elective surgery stoppages.

“Some of these cases have been transferred to private surgical centers such as the Western Surgery Center and the TLC. It helped. However, the total provincial cataract backlog is still around 5,000 cases, ”she told a Doctors Manitoba press conference Friday.

She explained that not all patients are eligible for surgery at a private center because they are more complex cases or other medical issues. She said it is best if these cases are reserved at the Misericordia health center or other public facilities.

“The longer patients wait for cataract surgery, the denser their cataracts become,” she said. “They have more difficulty with their vision, daily tasks, driving and work and are more vulnerable to injuries and falls,” she said.

Using data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), Doctors Manitoba found that Manitoba has experienced the biggest slowdown in eye surgery, including cataracts, in the country.

The reduction in Manitoba was approximately 44% between March 2020 and June 2021. Over the same period, the national average was 22%. Alberta recorded the smallest reduction, at 2%.

The graph illustrates the impact of eye surgery in Manitoba compared to other provinces from March 2020 to June 2021 using data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information. (Provided: Doctors Manitoba)

Doctors Manitoba estimates that the total pandemic backlog for cataract surgery in Manitoba is 4,945, which does not include the waiting list that had built up before the pandemic.

It is also estimated that at the Misericordia Health Center, 8,898 fewer cataract surgeries were performed during the pandemic compared to normal volumes before the pandemic. Western surgery recovered about half of it.


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