My local optometrist has told me their practice is returning to providing eye care as normal. As someone who is at high risk from COVID-19, I am worried that it may not be safe for me to attend my appointment. Please can you advise?
Your local optical practice, just as was the case pre-pandemic, will remain a safe place to visit to ensure all your eye care needs are met. Specific COVID-19 measures have been put in place to help reduce the risk of spreading infection, such as enhanced cleaning and disinfection, physical distancing, and wearing of PPE.
Now that practices have begun to return to standard infection prevention and control measures, this does not mean returning to business as usual pre-pandemic. The new normal will include the good practices established over the past 2 years to ensure high quality eye care can be provided safely for all. This means your optometrist will continue to wear face masks when performing eye examinations or clinical procedures, using gloves and/or aprons when necessary; while the whole team implements the recommended cleaning and disinfection procedures in all areas of the practice.
When people have symptoms of infection, including COVID-19, and they require a face-to-face appointment, their optometrist will be able to implement additional safety measures to protect staff and other patients within the practice.
Do I still have to wear a face covering when visiting my optometrist?
While optical practices have now moved on from COVID-19 specific infection control measures, current public health advice across the UK recommends that patients attending healthcare settings should continue to wear face coverings to protect against the spread of respiratory infections, including COVID-19, unless they are medically exempt.
If you have symptoms of respiratory infection, and require a face-to-face appointment, you will be asked to wear a fluid resistant face mask. If you don’t have one, you should be provided with one when you attend the practice. This is to protect staff and other patients, who may be vulnerable, by helping prevent the spread of infectious particles from the mouth and nose.
I have recently developed a fever and feel unwell, but am overdue my regular sight test. Can I contact my local optometrist to make an appointment?
If you have recently developed symptoms of respiratory infection, such as fever or high temperature, you should postpone arranging your routine eye examination until you are well. This is to help prevent spreading infection to others, particularly those who are clinically vulnerable.
If you have concerns about your vision or eye health, you should contact your local optometrist for advice, informing them you also have symptoms of respiratory infection. Depending on your clinical needs they may be able to offer a remote consultation to address your concerns, including remote prescribing of medicines when appropriate. This could be through video or telephone call arranged at a suitable time.
However, if you require a face-to-face appointment, you will be asked to wear a face mask when attending the practice, and additional infection control measures will be put in place to protect you, other patients and practice staff. If this is not possible, they will refer you to another local practice or hospital eye service who can do so.