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

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.

Update on optometric practice following the Government's announcement of new national restrictions in England

As the pandemic continues to affect people’s lives across the UK, interest in a viable vaccine is growing. The College's Director of Research, Michael Bowen looks at what guidance optometrists can offer patients on potential COVID-19 vaccines.

Mark Drakeford, First Minister for Wales, has announced additional restrictions from 6pm on Friday 23 October 2020 for two weeks.

We are aware of a petition regarding examination testing times during the pandemic. Read our statement.

College of Optometrists issues advice as part of National Eye Health Week

Podcast: Martin talks to Professor John Lawrenson FCOptom about his OPO paper discussing the evidence relating to COVID-19 and the eye, methods of transmission and practice implications.

Did you know the College has a full online events programme available just for members? Book your space now!

With COVID-19 affecting so many areas of our lives, Helen Gilbert looks at the impact the pandemic is having on optometric and ophthalmological research.

The vision sets out three key principles and recommendations for the development and governance of high quality eye care service.

The pandemic continues to affect the way primary and secondary eye care services are provided for patients in England.

Non-medical contact lens fitting can now take place during the amber phase of the pandemic.

In light of measures being introduced by the government across the UK, here is our guidance on dealing with local lockdown measures.

Johnathan Waugh MCOptom reflects on his time testing for COVID-19 in care homes in part two of his diaries

Optometrist, Reiss Jhamat MCOptom, recounts his experience working during the pandemic, and the introduction of the local Leicester lockdown.

Johnathan Waugh MCOptom reflects on his time working in a COVID-19 Assessment Centre at the beginning of the pandemic in part one of his diaries.

Join Seraphina Yap, pre-reg trainee at PLM Optometrists in Scotland, as she reflects on her life as a pre-reg during the start of the pandemic with her supervisor David Cummins MCOptom DipTP (IP).