30 November 2021

Updates to the College’s Amber phase COVID-19 guidance

We have updated our Amber phase COVID-19 guidance and COVID-19 FAQs.

Based on new government guidance and public health evidence we have updated our Amber phase COVID-19 guidance and COVID-19 FAQs. This update includes recommendations for managing the risk of seasonal respiratory infections, including COVID-19. 

As we head into winter, respiratory infection rates are expected to increase and COVID-19 rates are likely to remain high. Our guidance update will help primary eye care practices across the UK to continue to deliver eye care safely and effectively. 

Our position remains that practices should continue to open for routine services, while prioritising patients on a needs and symptoms-led basis. Remote consultations should take place when appropriate, to minimise patient contact. Optometrists and other practice staff should maintain comprehensive infection prevention and control procedures, including wearing face masks and appropriate PPE to keep patients and practice staff safe. 

Key highlights of the update include: 

  • triage of patients contacting the practice to screen for COVID-19 and other respiratory infections, including influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) 
  • universal use of face coverings for all patients as an IPC measure within health and care settings. This is likely to last until at least March/April 2022 
  • physical distancing of at least 1m, increasing to 2m whenever feasible 
  • revised infection prevention controls for Alger brush and microblepharoexfoliation procedures 
  • managing patients with symptoms of respiratory infection. 

Clinical adviser, Dr Paramdeep Bilkhu MCOptom, says: “We welcome the introduction of additional screening measures to reduce transmission of respiratory infections, including COVID-19, as we head into what is expected to be a challenging winter. PPE and stringent infection control precautions will remain important to protect optometrists and their patients at all times.”   

The College is continually reviewing the evidence and working with public health bodies across the UK to ensure our COVID-19 guidance remains comprehensive and up-to-date. We will alert members to all and any updates or nation-specific guidance in due course. If you have any questions or concerns relating to our COVID-19 guidance, please contact our clinical advice service.

This article was correct at time of publication. 

Related further reading

For the very last issue of Optometry in Practice, Professor Jonathan Jackson MCOptom reflects on the past two decades of the journal and its contribution to our learning.

This paper describes how viruses infect, reproduce and damage cells. Knowing this process is critical for understanding how to treat ocular viral infections.