11 May 2020

Donya Gharanei: Life in lockdown

Join Donya Gharanei MCOptom, Optometrist at Specsavers Opticians in Acocks Green, as she discusses the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The rapid spread of COVID-19 has been troubling for everyone, especially healthcare professionals. When the pandemic began eye services had to be modified in a matter of days. This meant routine eye examinations were halted, remote eye care services were introduced, and in-store collection of spectacles were minimised. 

“I’ve found it challenging to keep up with the changes to guidance. The recommendation against air-puff tonometry and changes in the supply of spectacles and contact lens rules would have been completely unheard of prior to the COVID-19 crisis. The changes were unsettling but the resources provided by The College of Optometrists, NHS, GOC and many more optical bodies allowed us to continue operating smoothly.

Telephone and video consultations have been introduced to determine whether an in-store emergency primary eye care assessment is deemed necessary. This is largely due to the difficulty in maintaining social distancing guidelines inside the testing room. We have been recommended to wear PPE in the form of facemasks, gloves, aprons and transparent guards for the slit lamp. This way, the safety and wellbeing of colleagues and patients is prioritised. To some extent, it forms an awkward barrier between the practitioner and the patient, but communicating effectively outside the testing room has minimised the impact of this. The use of PPE is greatly appreciated by our patients and it really puts them at ease throughout the eye examination. 

“As an optometrist, I’m used to working closely with patients, so the shift to remote services was strange and overwhelming to begin with. Despite this, the pressures have helped develop my communication skills and optometric insight, which will definitely assist me post-pandemic. Who knows, could remote consultations play a big part in optometry services in the future? 

“The cases I’ve come across have highlighted the necessity of eye care services during a pandemic. I’ve seen everything from sight threatening conditions such as retinal detachment, anterior uveitis and papilloedema, to conditions such as bacterial conjunctivitis, traumatic injury and dry eye cases. 

“By providing these services, we have been able to reduce the expected burden on GP practices and ophthalmology departments. It was my responsibility to step up and contribute back to my community and support our key workers. We aim to make a positive difference to the lives of all and I am honoured to be part of it.” 

Donya Gharanei MCOptom is an optometrist at Specsavers Opticians in Acocks Green. 

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