Advice and Resources for Optometrists during COVID-19
These are extraordinary times.
The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting all areas of our lives and there is much uncertainty about how we can continue to live and work under the social distancing restrictions.
Many optometry businesses and optometry locums will be struggling during Lockdown. So, in an effort to continue to support our locums and optometry businesses clients, here is a round-up of the best sources of information for optometry professionals:
The College of Optometrists
The College of Optometrists has a page dedicated to COVID-19 daily updates.
In addition to a set of links to key websites during the pandemic, the College also has a list of useful FAQs. Questions include both business and clinical examples, such as:
- Are optometrists considered ‘key workers’?
- I run a domiciliary business. Can I continue to see patients?
- Do I need to wear a surgical mask when examining healthy, asymptomatic patients?
The College continues to produce guidance and support for optometrists. This particularly useful coronavirus post provides instructions on how optometry practices need to adapt to continue running during the pandemic. The College’s recommendations include:
- Locking premises doors so patients are seen by appointment only.
- Wipe clean equipment and surfaces after every patient.
- Using SL-BIO instead of direct ophthalmoscopy to reduce close contact with patients.
General Optical Council
On the General Optical Council’s COVID-19 page, you will find a rundown of the advice for each home nation. Such as:
- NHS England’s Coronavirus guidance for clinicians and NHS managers.
- Links to the Scottish government’s Health and Social Care Directorates.
- Information for healthcare workers in Wales from the Welsh Assembly.
- Guidance for all optometry colleagues from the Health & Social Care services in Northern Ireland.
In addition to providing links to government sites, the GOC has issued its own set of statements. These statements cover a number of topics:
- Guidance for good practice during remote consultations and remote prescribing.
- Statements regarding the supply and aftercare of spectacles and contact lenses during the COVID-19 emergency.
- Advice on training and education of optometry students will be affected.
The GOC offers reassurance during this difficult time to all its members. The statements make it clear that staff and patient safety is paramount and acknowledges the uncertainty and anxiety felt by everyone within optometry.
Association of Optometrist and Optometry Today
The AOP has a coronavirus hub where it links to many helpful and relevant articles. Its main advice page is regularly updated with the latest information on COVID-19 and the novel coronavirus.
Articles that optometry professionals may find useful include:
- When to provide an eye test during the coronavirus outbreak.
- How the restrictions due to the novel coronavirus affect domiciliary care.
- Plus many employment-related topics regarding rights and benefits available to both employers, employees and the self-employed – such as locum optometrists.
The Optometry Today website has a daily optics briefing page where it lists the latest optical news regarding the novel coronavirus.
Keeping your staff and your patients sage during the novel coronavirus outbreak
The overwhelming advice is to limit contact with patients and with other staff members:
- Identify high-risk staff members and take steps to ensure they can self-isolate.
- See patients by appointment only. Appointments should be limited to emergencies only. Doors should remain locked.
- Avoid equipment that requires close contact with patients. You can find advice on suitable alternatives that limit close contact that optometrists have with their patients.
- Employ good hygiene practices throughout all appointments. Such as offering hand sanitiser to all patients as they enter the clinic. And all surfaces and equipment should be wiped down with an appropriate alcohol wipe in between patients.
- Optometrists are key workers.