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

Optometrists are taking part in one of the biggest medical breakthroughs in decades, learning new skills, boosting their confidence and expanding the profession’s scope of practice. Radhika Holmström reports.

Eyecare provision as lockdown eases across the UK.

The College of Optometrists’ member app helps support members in providing the best possible patient care.

If you are a locum or non-NHS provider practice staff, LOCSU has created a vaccine portal to ensure you are registered locally to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Podcast: The College hosted a webinar in January 2021 with a panel of representatives from The College, ABDO,AOP, FODO and GOC, answering questions from practitioners on the national lockdown.

Following the national lockdowns announced across the UK, some members have expressed concerns that their employers are not following Amber Phase guidance.

Sector bodies will come together on 14 January to answer your questions.

The General Optical Council (GOC) sought views on how they can continue to support registrants and the optical sector throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many of you have been in touch to ask about the Covid-19 vaccination programme. All UK representative bodies are working together and will keep the sector up to date with developments.

Watch our video and read our FAQs for more information on eye care provision under the new national restrictions.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister and First Minister for Scotland announced new national restrictions to help tackle the rising number of coronavirus infections and ease pressure on NHS and related health

Today’s announcement will see more areas in England move to Tier 4 lockdown arrangements.

We explain how additional restrictions will affect optometrists working in Tier 4 areas.

We summarise the current evidence relating to the new variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus for optometrists.

We explain how the additional restrictions announced in Northern Ireland will affect optometrists.

We explain how the additional restrictions announced in Wales will affect optometrists.

Participate in the government-funded UK-REACH study to help understand why people from certain ethnic minorities are more likely to have severe COVID-19.

The College has been involved in discussions with NHSE to ensure optometrists are given access to COVID-19 vaccinations as early as possible.

Optical bodies have grouped together to recognise the efforts of the optical profession to provide the best possible care for patients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

We explain how the additional restrictions announced in Scotland will affect optometrists.

In line with the government’s new national restrictions in England, we have advised members that all practices remain open to provide services.