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ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The Vision Council has released results from the third round of its ongoing COVID-19 Eyecare Provider Study, and the most recent responses indicate several negative effects across all areas of practice operations as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The ongoing research project is designed to gain a broad understanding of how the market is reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through a weekly survey fielded to 400 eyecare providers, the study explores the impact of tightening restrictions, evolving consumer sentiment and government guidance related to COVID-19.

In the third wave of the survey, which included responses from 386 professionals, the key findings showed that nearly 60 percent of respondents were reporting practice closures and 72 percent reported having to reduce staff in the week of March 23-28 covered by the survey. This increase in staff reductions represented a significant jump from the 56 percent who reported having to reduce staff in the first round of The Vision Council survey (which covered the week of March 9-14).

The study launched on March 9 and is being conducted on a weekly basis. The results for the first three weeks, or waves, of the study are currently available. The full reports can be found here

“Given how unprecedented the circumstances around the COVID-19 pandemic are and how quickly the situation is changing, we launched this study as one way to keep our members and the industry at large as informed and as up-to-date as possible on the rapidly shifting business landscape,” The Vision Council chief executive Ashley Mills said in an announcement. “We will continue to field the study and share the results so that as an industry we can tune in to and better understand important market trends, and how they are changing, during this disruptive time.”

The responses in wave three of the survey indicated that patient volume and capture rate “continue to decrease significantly week over week as COVID-19 pandemic worsens,” The Vision Council said.

According to this week’s findings, the areas of the country with the highest percentage of practice closures is the Mid-Atlantic with 79 percent of respondents indicating their practices were not open, followed by New England (67 percent) and East South Central (67 percent).

The COVID-19 Eyecare Provider Study asks respondents about changes they are experiencing in the market during the week, including the impact of COVID-19 on practice operations, highlighting practice closures, reduced hours, modified services, and reduction in staffing; patient volume and capture rate; and vendor performance, among other key business performance metrics.

The Vision Council will continue to field these studies every week to monitor how the situation is changing. The report includes trend graphs comparing results week to week, offering valuable insights into the evolving market impact of COVID-19.