19 June 2020

Hamza Mussa: Life in lockdown

Join optometrist, Hamza Mussa MCOptom, as he reflects on his experience being furloughed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When lockdown began, I was still working in practice. We shifted to providing emergency and essential eye care and completely adapted our routine overnight. We went from clinics full of patients, friendly chats and examinations, to video consultations. Essential face-to-face appointments were conducted as quickly as possible covered in PPE. It was a strange feeling.

“During the first two weeks of lockdown I saw a range of emergencies including foreign bodies, a corneal ulcer, uveitis and a retinal tear. Coming to the end of week two we decided to keep the testing contained in one practice. After a discussion with my fellow optometrist, I volunteered to go on furlough. I always thought I’d be one of the last optometrists working in practice, so initially I felt a bit lost.

“I think we sometimes forget how much time work takes up. It’s been nice to slow down, unwind and relax, despite feeling the unconscious pressure to be productive. I’ve been spending a lot of time volunteering at our local foodbank, alongside starting my Professional Certificate in Medical Retina. It’s refreshing - I haven’t had this much free time since the summer holidays as a kid! It’s allowed me to spend more time with family, catch up with friends, do awful quizzes, and buy a Nintendo switch for my nephew which ‘accidentally’ got delivered to me.

“My blog @thecrazyoptom gives me a unique insight into the mix of emotions my colleagues, pre-regs and university students are feeling. For many, it is the anticipation of when we will be called back into work, and what the new ‘normal’ will be when routine eye care resumes across the UK. The pre-registration year is challenging and stressful enough, without a global pandemic thrown in. So for pre-regs in the middle of the Scheme, and graduates waiting to enter, this time can feel frustrating and at times overwhelming. I would encourage you to reach out to friends and family, and services put in place by organisations. We are all in this together and as a profession we will come out of this stronger.”

Hamza Mussa MCOptom is an optometrist and professional advancement consultant for Specsavers.

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Jane Veys MCOptom on reducing the tears and fears of our patients