COVID-19

All of the UK is currently in the Green phase. 

You should now follow our updated Guidance for Professional Practice and your nation’s infection prevention and control guidance for healthcare settings.  

Summary of COVID-19 guidance

We have summarised COVID-19 guidance applicable at different stages of the pandemic below.

During both the red and amber phases of the pandemic practices should:

  • Put appropriate infection control, practice modifications, and social distancing procedures in place
  • Ensure there is telephone/video review to determine COVID-19 status and level of eyecare need
  • Provide services remotely where possible and in the patient’s best interests
  • Ask the patient to attend the practice alone where possible and reduce the number of people in the consulting room
  • Ask patients to wear a face covering where possible
  • Conduct a risk assessment
  • Keep up to date with guidance published by UK governments.

Optometrists should:

  • Wear PPE if seeing patients face to face
  • Use alternatives to aerosol generating procedures (microblepharoexfoliation or Alger brush) until the green phase
  • Adapt their routine to reduce close contact with patients and streamline consultations to only do tests that are clinically necessary, rather than ‘blanket testing’ all patients in a category. Annotate the record accordingly
  • Make it clear on the record what adjustments have been made to the routine or decision making
  • Keep up to date with guidance published by UK governments.

What this means:

  • When a government or health service suspends routine primary care due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Services provided

What this means:

  • Ongoing COVID-19 pandemic with restrictions in place, but primary care remains open for routine services. Primary care services continue to enable the prioritisation of emergency/urgent and essential care on a needs and symptoms-led basis.

Services provided

What this means:

  • Social distancing requirements removed. COVID-19 related PPE is no longer required*. Prioritisation of care based on each nation’s regular local protocols.

Services provided

  • Resume all services on an open access basis.
  • Re-introduction of aerosol generating procedures

*UKHSA continues to recommend universal masking in all health care settings as a precaution to prevent the risk of transmission of respiratory infections including SARS-CoV-2. All staff should continue to wear a fluid-resistant face mask in the green phase as instructed by UKHSA. All people/ patients visiting health care settings should continue to be recommended to use a face covering as recommended by each nations health system. 

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Essential reading

Read on for the answers to your COVID-19 questions, covering a range of topics from driving and HES referrals to PPE and tonometry.

We’ve been working with governments and eye health organisations across the UK to ensure that you have the all the latest news, information and regulations relating to optometry and COVID-19 in your nation.

Since our first update on 20 March 2020, right at the start of lockdown, we’ve been providing timely, relevant news, information and guidance that you can trust.

More on COVID-19

Clinical Files: What steps should I take to ensure my practice remains open to provide eye care safely and protect my staff, while we are in the green phase?

The Scottish government recommends the continuation of universal masking in optometry practices.

The optical sector has confirmed that frontline healthcare workers throughout the UK will be offered the COVID-19 booster vaccination this autumn. This includes optical staff working in primary eye care settings.

Asymptomatic testing for COVID-19 to pause from 31 August 2022.

The College’s Clinical Editor on renewed excitement and optimism in the profession.

Becky McCall asks how shifts in working practices caused by the COVID-19 pandemic might change the ophthalmic services workforce.

Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, regional NHS bodies in England are asking practices to review their mask-wearing guidance.

As our Editor in Chief steps into a new role, we look at how hospital clinics and practices coped with the pressures of the pandemic, and how we can provide services tailored to patients' needs.

This article reviews the utility of telemedicine in community practice.

This article describes an audit to evaluate how the COVID-19 pandemic affected hospital contact lens services.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has stepped down its infection prevention and control measures for seasonal respiratory infection in health and care settings (including SARS-CoV-2) in England.

From today, optometrists in the whole of the UK will return to the Green phase as we stand down the Amber phase COVID-19 guidance.

We are pleased to announce that each nation's health system has confirmed that they support a move to the ‘Green’ phase on Tuesday 10 May 2022. From then, the College’s COVID-19 Amber phase guidance will no longer apply in all UK nations.

Updated infection prevention and control guidance and manual have been published by the UK Health Security Agency for England.

In conjunction with each UK Nation’s health system and government public health bodies, optometry practices are expected to move to “Green” phase in early May 2022.

We have reviewed and updated our Guidance for Professional Practice to ensure it aligns with each Nation’s public health advice, including the recommended respiratory infection prevention and controls to minimise risk of transmission.

In the letter, we highlight the importance of vaccination against transmissible diseases, and the responsibilities our professionals have.

We've issued advice, jointly with ABDO, following the Prime Minister's announcement that England would be removing all remaining COVID-19 legal restrictions from 24 February 2022.

Sophie Goodchild examines the success of online learning for providers and practitioners, and what the future holds.

Dr Paramdeep Bilkhu MCOptom, Clinical Adviser for the College, on why PPE should remain on the front line of optometric practice.

Following the announcement by the Secretary for Health that the isolation period for people who test positive for COVID-19 will be cut to five full days in England, NHSE has confirmed this will apply in primary care settings.

UKHSA confirms that changes to the self-isolation period following Covid exposure applies to healthcare workers