COVID-19: one year on

30 April 2021
Acuity digital

Three optometrists – hospital-based, in the community and newly qualified – on how they have fought back against the pandemic over the past 12 months.

The pandemic has put a huge strain on the profession, accelerating change and making an impact that could be felt for decades to come. What kind of eyecare profession will emerge and what coping strategies have optometrists developed to navigate any further ‘bumps in the road’?

Jagdeep Singh (JS) is a specialist optometrist at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and a medical retina optometrist for SpaMedica. He is the clinical governance and performance lead in Staffordshire, Cheshire and Merseyside for Primary Eyecare Services and a College council member in the West Midlands.

Faye McDearmid (FM) has worked in all areas of optometry, from hospitals to academia. She has run an independent practice in Redcar, North Yorkshire, for the past 13 years.

Syeda Narjis Fatima (SNF) is a newly qualified optometrist from Leeds. 

How have you adapted to the challenges of the pandemic? 

JS: During the first lockdown we were only running two clinics, eye casualty and medical retina, and many patients were apprehensive about attending. I got into the habit of calling non-attending patients to reassure them how important it was, especially those who needed regular review and treatment. 
FM: During lockdown, my priorities were to keep everybody safe and keep the practice going. The main challenges were staying up to date and keeping communication channels open. 
SNF: My goal was to complete my pre-registration year. Cancelled exams and being unable to revise with friends was incredibly stressful. Over time, we were able to develop new online communities and work together with other pre-reg optometrists. 

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Related further reading

We are pleased to announce that each nation's health system has confirmed that they support a move to the ‘Green’ phase on Tuesday 10 May 2022. From then, the College’s COVID-19 Amber phase guidance will no longer apply in all UK nations.

This outlines a COVID-19 Urgent Eyecare Service delivered from a network of optical practices, acting as urgent eye care hubs, to support the immediate and recovery phase of the coronavirus pandemic.

From today, optometrists in the whole of the UK will return to the Green phase as we stand down the Amber phase COVID-19 guidance.