The global pandemic introduces many difficulties to daily life and Optometry is no different!
Optometrists cannot perform any work at a distance greater than 2 metres – their arms are too short after all! As anyone who has had an eye exam will know, examination of the back of the eye is a very close procedure, with very little distance between the client and the optom.
Professional and regulatory guidance suggests that because Optometrists cannot work with the “self distancing” suggestions, we will have to attempt to go by the 15 minute rule. For the foreseeable, eye tests may need to be split into more than one session – the suggestions are that refractions and history and symptoms will be visit one and there will need to be another appointment for eye examination and (if necessary) collection of spectacles.
Obviously, depending on symptoms and issues, things may need to be done in a different order, depending on priority.
This is a not ideal situation, but in these circumstances, which are not ideal, we will have to roll with it.
We are going to have to instigate an appointment only visiting plan – no visitors without an appointment, at all. All appointments made by telephone will have to be screened, “triaged” to ensure you have no symptoms of COVID-19 and to determine why you require an appointment – if you have an emergency, such as loss of vision, we will see you no problem, but a red and/or sticky eye associated with a cough could be a sign – we will direct you elsewhere – best to call the HSE?
Routine eye examinations are the most likely to be disrupted – we plan to split those up as previously described, but, unfortunately, at this time do you really need your eyes tested? If you broke your specs and need a new pair, for the moment, if you could see OK with the previous pair, it might be better to go with the old prescription? We will absorb the costs involved here – should it later become “clear”, after a test down the line, that the correction was not ideal, we will change the spectacle lenses at no further charge to you. But maybe just wear your spare pair until this current crisis has passed?
Teaching clients how to apply and remove contact lenses is a time intensive and close proximity task which will have to be suspended until further notice.
For those folks who are past their contact lens prescription “in date time”, we will (as per recommendations) extend the contact lens prescription validity time, until things improve – no contact lens check mandatory at the moment!
For the same reasons, all home visit appointments are cancelled until further notice – there is no point in visiting a housebound person and exposing them to unnecessary risk!
Tough times for all of us – none of these measures are necessarily just to protect the staff of the practice, though that is of course an issue, but it is moreso to protect the wider community, to ensure we do not cause community spreading.
Pubs, Clubs and other venues, where large numbers may be in close proximity have been advised to close for two weeks by the government. We also see that certain local businesses have chosen to close for the next few weeks – that is their choice and we make no inference on whether that is the correct choice, but life goes on, as will COVID-19. It will still be in the wild in 2 weeks from now, likely more widespread, so we will hold off from even more drastic measures until absolutely necessary…..