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. 

Follow us on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates as they happen.

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

The College issues advice following the Prime Minister's announced that the UK would return to COVID Alert Level 4.

Podcast: Daniel talks to Dr Melanie Hingorani FRCOphth, Clinical Lead for Eye Care Restoration and Transformation at NHS England, about the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on referrals.

We believe that vaccine uptake will be maximised when staff are supported to make their own decisions, having been provided with clear, evidence-based information on the benefit and value of vaccinations.

We have updated our Amber phase COVID-19 guidance and COVID-19 FAQs.

Podcast: Professor Leon Davies FCOptom, Editor of OiP, and Professor Shahina Pardhan MCOptom, Director of Vision and Eye Research Institute at ARU, discuss the impact of COVID-19 on eye health and eyecare.

Department of Health and Social Care has not taken on board the advice of The College of Optometrists in their decision to press ahead with mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations.

The College responded to a DSHC consultation to support the extension of provision of free PPE to the health and care sector, including optometrists, after 31 March.

A message from Colin Davidson, College President.

How the pandemic has created new trends in contact lens wear and compliance.

We've responded to a consultation by the Department of Health and Social Care on making vaccination a condition of deployment in the health and wider social care sector.

Updates to Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) classification and the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on eye strain and dry- eye-related symptoms

Clarification on the UKHSA statement on changes to physical distancing, patient COVID-19 testing and cleaning procedures.

The College of Optometrists' and ABDO's joint position on mandatory vaccinations.

The Department of Health and Social Care is consulting on proposals for mandatory COVID-19 and flu vaccinations for all frontline health and social care workers in England.

Physical distancing in health and care settings (including community optometry practices) may be reduced in some areas.

Podcast: In this episode, Daniel has a fascinating conversation with Professor Jose-Luis Jimenez, aerosol expert and fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder, USA.

How lockdown restriction easing will affect optical practices and guidance on the appropriate application of the self-isolation exemption in Scotland following recent government announcements.

Find out what our Clinical Adviser has to say about a study published by the University of Hong Kong linking COVID-19 restrictions, screen time and myopia in children.

Lockdowns led to cancelled operations and check-ups. Becky McCall looks at the legacy of the pandemic for eye disease and sight loss, and the lessons that have been learned.

Here we summarise three research papers from a recent issue of Optometry in Practice.

From vaccine hesitancy to blue-light filters, Steve Smethurst looks at the erroneous but unbudgeable beliefs that should be buried for good.

The College of Optometrists and The Royal College of Ophthalmologists have released a joint statement of our vision for safe and sustainable patient eye care services.

Following on from the joint vision statement for England published in August 2020, both Colleges have reviewed and built on the learnings over the past year resulting in a joint statement for the UK.

We have updated our Amber phase COVID-19 guidance to help practices across the UK deliver eye care safely and effectively at this stage of the pandemic.