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

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.

We explain how the easing of restrictions in Wales will affect optometrists.

Sector bodies advise that optical practices should continue to follow Amber guidance, and self-isolation exemptions in England are unlikely to apply in primary eye care settings.

Together with ABDO we advise that practices should continue to operate in the amber phase and maintain high infection control standards this summer.

Healthcare organisations from across England have written a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for face masks to be mandatory in healthcare settings.

The College, ABDO, the AOP and FODO have issued guidelines on appropriate infection prevention and control measures following recent government announcements.

As society continues to open up, the Optometry in Practice editorial board thought it opportune to reflect on the experiences of the pandemic to date and assess the impact on both eyecare professionals and our patients.

COVID-19 and its impact on eyecare: a review