1 May 2020

Forde Opticians: Life in lockdown

Join Gemma Hill MCOptom, Optometrist and Owner of Forde Opticians, as she takes you through her life as a ‘one-man band’ in her independent practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I started getting COVID-19 symptoms which meant I had to close the practice just before lockdown. With everything backdated, it took me a whole week to get on top of orders, deliveries, and cancelled appointments. I had to put my other three staff members on furlough and have been a one-man band ever since. Although this keeps me (very) busy, I cannot wait till they’re back! My everyday nightmare is trying to put lenses into frames, I must have congenitally weak thumbs. 

“I’m currently only taking phone consultations, most have required my new IP qualification, which has become indispensable. I’ve had two classic flashes and floaters which I had to refer to hospital. My heart sinks at having to do this, I feel guilty having to burden the hospital with something I should be able to do myself. Luckily, my local hospital has been great during this time; I had a patient with sore eyes but no redness, photophobia or discharge and unchanged visual acuity. A week of ocular lubricants had made no difference and she was describing the pain as an 8/10. Without assessment, I felt I had no choice but to speak to the hospital. The on-call consultant was quick to give me kind words and reassurance, he then asked me to keep her on the same treatment and review in another week. We got her to take pictures of her eyes for reference, and we sent her the College’s visual acuity chart and accompanying video (thanks, Daniel!) for her to monitor her vision. I forgot how good it was to speak to someone out loud about a patient!

 “I logged into a vision web conference last week which stressed the importance of keeping up communication with our patients. I spent the next day phoning every patient I had spoken to over the past 3 weeks even if their concern had been mild or resolved, just to ensure they were ok. They responded so well and were all grateful for having someone check up on them. Maybe we just all need a nice chat during these times?” 

Gemma Hill MCOptom owns Forde Opticians, an independent practice set in the heart of the small town of Linwood in Renfrewshire.

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