Take cover: PPE and the long war on infection

31 January 2022
Winter 2022

Dr Paramdeep Bilkhu MCOptom, Clinical Adviser for the College, on why PPE should remain on the front line of optometric practice.

After nearly two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, infection control measures remain our frontline strategy for minimising the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is right to maintain these procedures today, given the significant impact of COVID-19 infection on so many people and the increased pressures on our health services, including further delays in secondary eye care that will have unfortunately led to avoidable sight loss. 

The College’s COVID-19 pandemic guidance (COptom, 2021a) provides comprehensive recommendations to implement healthcare-related infection control strategies set out by each UK nation’s public health body within a primary care optical practice setting.

I have often been asked when the use of PPE in optometry will come to an end. People are often surprised by my response. I believe that enhanced PPE, including the use of face masks when required, will become the “new normal”. Although physical distancing and sessional use of fluid-resistant face masks by all primary care practice staff are COVID-19-specific measures to reduce transmission, most recommendations on their use when examining patients have always been in place within the College’s Guidance for Professional Practice (B38-B45), including when to wear gloves, face masks and protective clothing such as aprons (COptom, 2021b). This new normal will help protect against future pandemics and reduce the risk of spreading seasonal respiratory infections.

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