COVID-19: College of Optometrists updates

The College of Optometrists Logo

24 March 2020
Source: College of Optometrists

This contains the current guidance available for each nation and the latest updates from the College.

23 March 2020: Recommendation to only offer ‘essential’ eye care

We have listened to our members’ concerns, and the public health advice coming from the UK’s governments to avoid social contact where possible. As a result the College recommends that every optometrist and practice owner stops providing routine sight tests and routine eye examinations, and offers only essential services. Essential services would include sight tests based on a clinical need, and urgent eye care pathways. We note that some practices are doing this on a voluntary basis already.

There are several reasons for this:

Practices now need to contribute to the public health endeavour of ensuring that people only go out when necessary. Routine sight tests can be safely delayed.

It is essential we help to keep the nation‘s sight healthy – from NHS frontline staff to those in self-isolation. Our communities still need essential eye care, and secondary care may need our support to see urgent cases. We therefore need to ensure our members and all optical staff are able to protect themselves and maintain the safety of their communities.

We understand the growing concern about the potential for tears to lead to COVID-19 infection and are waiting for more certain evidence on this. In the meantime optometrists should not put themselves at unnecessary risk, and we are asking UK governments to provide appropriate PPE for optometrists who are providing essential services.

We note that the Welsh and Scottish governments have already issued advice on essential primary eye services and stopping routine sight tests. We are pressing NHS England and the HSCNI to do the same, and to provide financial support to enable practices to continue to be viable eye care centres.

Read full information on the College of Optometrists website

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