Optometrists re-open as part of phase 1

People with eye care needs are being encouraged to attend their optometrists, which are reopening as part of phase 1 of the Government’s COVID-19 roadmap.

According to the Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI), all services, both urgent and non-urgent, will be available, including routine eye exams. However social distancing and safety measures will be followed at all appointments.

“From Monday, contact your optometrist if you have eye care needs, even if non-urgent. The recommended approach is to phone the optometrist in advance to discuss your needs and to then make an appointment based on this,” explained AOI president, Patricia Dunphy.

A number of adaptations have been made to comply with safety requirements. These include:

-Numbers will be managed in each premises at all times, to allow people to remain two metres apart

-Contact with equipment will be minimised and sterilised after use

-Where close examinations are required, personal protective equipment (PPE) will be used.

The AOI is meeting with the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, today to discuss the measures being taken and also to talk about what optometrists can do to help alleviate eye-care waiting lists and demand. Prior to the pandemic, eye care already had one of the largest healthcare waiting lists in the country.

The AOI also insisted that optometrists should be granted prescribing rights for antibiotic eye drops.

“There are a number of conditions where an optometrist completes an examination and makes a diagnosis, but must then refer the patient back to the GP for their prescription.

“This includes widely used topical antibiotics for conjunctivitis, blepharitis and removal of corneal foreign bodies. We are also now in the hay fever period of the year. Optometrists are already suitably qualified to fast-track this,” Ms Dunphy noted.

Meanwhile, the AOI also reassured people that it is safe to continue to use contact lens, as long as good hygiene is practised.

Anyone with any concerns about their eyes should contact their optometrist by phone first.


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