18 May 2020

Matt Roney: Life in lockdown

Matt Roney MCOptom, Specialist Optometrist at The Royal Liverpool University Hospital, takes us through his new life in primary care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Since lockdown, life at work has changed dramatically. The biggest difference I’ve seen is the switch to late night Primary Care shifts, which has been a personal favourite. I have been wanting to do more primary care sessions for a while, and it’s really helped with my IP course. Some days there are less patients, so extra time to have one-to-one learning from the ophthalmologists, and other days you’re thrown into the deep end. 

“Most of the ophthalmologists in my hospital have been re-deployed to help with COVID-19 - hats off to them! I think this has given optometrists the opportunity to shine and demonstrate how diverse and adaptable we are as a profession. And bonus, more primary care for me!

“There has been a wide variety of patients coming into primary care, less dry eye and more interesting cases - some I’d only read about in text books. Last week I saw my first posterior uveitis, this was incredibly exciting but did throw me into a position in which my knowledge basis ran its course. 

“AMD clinics have changed too. Before lockdown we would have a face-to-face consultation and a detailed slit lamp examination before working out which protocol to follow, when to review the patient, and when to inject. Since lockdown, we’ve had the same number of patients, but rely a lot more on OCT images and patient symptoms to inform our management plan. Less slit lamp means less patient contact time. 

“My days off have also changed, especially when it comes to cutting my hair. No more Turkish barber trips. Instead, my girlfriend came to the rescue. She did a great job at fading the sides. Then she trimmed the top and accidentally set the clippers to a number one, so I ended up as a skin head. Luckily for me, this gave the hospital staff a good laugh. Some even went for the one all over look too! 

“When we all eventually go back, it’s likely to be to a new version of normal. Gone are the days of working Monday to Friday 9-5pm. The waiting lists are going to be long, so clinic profiles will need to change. This will mean more opportunities for optometrists, and more variety to our week. 

“This new normal will be different, but for those slightly anxious about returning to work, just remember, everyone is in the same boat. It will be strange for all staff and patients to be out in the big wide world again, but I think people will be incredibly appreciative of the care we provide as a community, and as a profession.”

Matt Roney MCOptom is a Specialist Optometrist at the The Royal Liverpool University Hospital. 

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Related further reading

Himali Shah MCOptom, Resident Optometrist at Specsavers, Leicester North, discusses a case of a patient presenting with vitreomacular traction.

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