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

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

This article summarises the key findings of a survey taken by members of the College of Optometrists investigating changes in clinical optometric practice in the UK as a result of the pandemic including the challenges and benefits identified.

This study investigates the opinions of contact lens practitioners at the end of lockdown about the changes they implemented.

This article reviews the research into digital technology innovation and home monitoring in the management of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma.

From the start of the first lockdown in March 2020, teaching in higher education saw a significant move to online learning. How has this impacted the postgraduate independent prescribing programme?

Reflecting on our experience over the summer of 2020 allowed us to scale up our programme delivery to address the education of our Stage 3 cohort.

College of Optometrists encourages the public to seek eye care if they have concerns about their vision or eye health.

Use our online resources and materials to support your continuing professional development and earn essential CPD points.

The GOC has approved an extension of temporary changes to their Optometry Handbook and Supervision policy

Emma Bennett explores the link between a rise in screen time during the pandemic and increasing levels of myopia in children. 

Clinical files: The local glaucoma service called the practice and requested a patient’s historic intraocular pressure results. Can I give these out over the phone?

Clinical files: Can I prescribe a prescription-only medicine based on my findings and working diagnosis from a remote consultation?

Clinical files: A patient refuses to wear a face covering when attending a primary care practice for a sight test. What should I do?

Clinical files: How can I safely use a visual field machine during the recovery phase of the pandemic?

Clinical files: Do I need to wear a face mask in the staff room?

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.

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