The latest lock-down rules permit optometrists to keep their doors open. But should you or shouldn’t you be going? And how do you know if it is safe to see your optometrist during COVID-19?
ARE YOU WELL?
You should avoid visiting your optometrist for a non-essential eye test, or any other reason, if any of the following apply:
- If you are unwell, undergoing cancer treatment or have any of the following underlying illnesses: diabetes, a respiratory condition or heart condition and cancer treatment put you at higher risk for developing severe COVID-19 illness. You should not leave your house unless absolutely necessary. Arrange for a family member to collect your eye wear (or have it posted out) and call your optometrist if you need replacement glasses or contact lenses.
- Regardless of age, if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 please DO NOT visit your optometrist. You will put their staff and patients at risk. Symptoms include including fever, cough and sore throat. Other symptoms of contagious disease including sneezing, running nose, diarrhoea or vomiting and loss of your sense of smell.
- You, or someone you live with, has returned from overseas, or another state with a COVID-19 outbreak, within the past two weeks. If so, you should self-isolate at home for 14 days and not leave the house.
- You or someone you live with has had ANY contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, you must self-isolate for 14 days until the quarantine period has passed.
The Eye Practice will be asking these questions of all patients PRIOR to their appointment. Please be truthful with your answers to allow us to protect our staff and urgent patients.
IS YOUR VISIT URGENT?
Urgent doesn’t necessarily mean medically urgent. Sight-threatening symptoms such as sudden loss of vision, symptoms of flashes and floaters etc are urgent. But there are many other reasons that are time-sensitive when it comes to having the use of your eyes:
- Referral due to new or recent diagnosis of an eye condition. These include keratoconus or severe dry eye
- Contact lens fitting for keratoconus or severe dry eye
- Urgent follow up for eye disease such as: contact lens related infection, wet macular degeneration, eye injury or inflammation (including uveitis)
- Lost or broken your only pair of glasses (or contact lenses) and you are dependent on them
- Running low on disposable contact lenses and you don’t have glasses
In these last two cases, phone or online discussion can often resolve the issue without having to come in (see below).
CAN IT HAPPEN ONLINE?
Many visits to optometrists are to replace broken glasses or purchase a second pair. Much of this can happen online, via Facetime or Zoom.
Often, your optometrist can reorder the frame you had previously in the same or an alternative colour. This is often the best solution. We can even accommodate multifocal lenses if we have already measured you in the frame in the past and have these measurements on your record.
- If your previous frame is out of stock, we can select a few options with the same size bridge and lenses, so it looks similar on your face.
- Some clinical consultations can also occur online, such as follow up for dry eye patients. While The Eye Practice cannot perform diagnostic tests online, we CAN discuss your progress, alter your treatment regimen accordingly and issue your therapeutic prescription.
Contact The Eye Practice to arrange an online consultation to review your eye disease or to order replacement glasses.
HOW DO I KNOW IT’S SAFE TO SEE MY OPTOMETRIST?
As far as risk of COVID-19 goes, the most risky thing in the practice is YOU, the patient. The Eye Practice takes the new hygiene protocols very seriously. This is why we will ask you to thoroughly wash your hands (with soap for 20 seconds) on arrival and use hand sanitiser gel moving between areas of the practice.
- If you are older or infirm, but need to be urgently seen, we will ask you to wear a disposable mask for your own protection.
- Our optometrists and front of house staff will be wearing approved masks.
- All testing equipment is wiped down with disinfectant wipes between patients.
- Our Eftpos machines are cling-wrapped after each new transaction.
Social distancing rules are enforced with no more that one person per 4 square meters (and mostly a lot less).
You can assist with maintaining a safe environment:
- leave family members outside the practice
- bring the minimum items and bags to your appointment
- minimise contact and small talk with our staff and optometrist
- wash your hands regularly
WHAT IF IT REALLY IS URGENT AND YOU CAN’T SEE ME?
The Eye Practice may not able to see you in person if you are unwell. If you have recently returned from overseas or been in contact with someone with COVID-19, you must let us know. But that doesn’t mean you’re on your own. We can support you remotely.
Our optometrists can consult with you via phone or email about your urgent condition. We can make the appropriate referral to a hospital or emergency eye department where necessary.