Many of us are looking forward to easing back to a degree of normality following the government restrictions during March and April. However, there is naturally an element of concern and anxiety around safety that we may feel as we slowly start to return to our routine lives. Eye care is an important and essential service, and from the 18th May the government has lifted restrictions for routine eye care and introduced protocols to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The protocols incorporate current advice about measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community issued by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET)
At Teahan Optometrists we are following public health advice and guidelines from the HSE, the Return to Work Safety Protocol (gov.ie) and our own professional body, the Association of Optometrists.
Detailed below are a list of measures that have been implemented to-date and we sincerely hope that this information will give you reassurance that your safety is of the utmost importance to us. If you need to discuss any particular concerns with us we will be happy to speak with you.
Safety Measures at Reception/Waiting Areas and Toilet Facilities
- Pre-consultation COVID-19 risk assessments will be carried out for all patients/customers attending for more than 15 minutes (this applies to spectacle dispenses and eye consultations).
- Control and management of the number of patients/customers on the premises at any particular time by ensuring all patient/customer visits are appointment based. The maximum number of visitors permitted in the reception area at any one time is two persons, and the front door will be locked when appropriate so that this maximum number cannot be exceeded.
- Provision of hand sanitisers, tissues and bins at entry/exit points and other key locations within the premises, with clear instruction signs on how to sanitise correctly located at these points.
- Installation of a barrier with signage to ensure people sanitise and take a seat, perspex barriers at reception, clear floor markings and 2 metre seat separation in the reception area to ensure that contact between patients/customers and our team members is kept to a minimum, and to ensure that patients/customers adhere to the 2 metre social distancing requirements as they await our service.
- Implementation of a daily, hourly and ad-hoc cleaning regime to ensure that contact points such as door handles, light switches, desks and counter-tops are kept impeccably clean and disinfected at all times.
- Display in numerous visible locations the HSE advice on the COVID-19 to ensure that patients/customers are also adhering to what is required regarding hand hygiene, cough and sneeze etiquette, face touching, handshakes and social distancing.
- Our team members are fully trained on COVID-19 and measures to prevent transmission. They all have a sanitiser dispenser at their work stations and have masks and face shields at their disposal to use where 2 meter social distancing cannot be maintained for any particular reason. Our team is also trained on how to instruct practice visitors to adhere to the HSE COVID-19 guidelines in order to prevent transmission.
- The toilet facilities have sanitiser at the entry/ exit point and instructions on proper hand-washing by the sink. Disposable paper towels are provided for hand drying. The toilet area is regularly disinfected.
Safety Measures at Spectacle Dispensing Areas
- All patients attending for spectacle dispensing will be attending by appointment only and there is a limit on the number of people in the dispensing area to two people.
- Hand sanitiser gel will be used by staff and patients prior to, and following trying on frames.
- Frames will only be taken from the displays by our dispensing team as there is a ‘no touch’ policy, with signage stating this, for all the displays.
- The frames will be wiped with Zeiss spectacle cleaning wipes prior to trying on.
- All frames that have been tried on will be removed from the dispensing area so that they can be immediately deep cleaned and disinfected before being returned to the displays.
- Measurements of the frame position relative to the patient will be carried out using our digital technology, which allows for minimal contact.
- If a physical measurement or frame adjustment is required and 2 metres social distance cannot be maintained, our dispensing team will wear a face shield and mask.
Safety Measures in Consultation Room with Optometrist
- Our Optometrists will guide the patients through hand sanitising and correct application and use of facemasks prior to entering the consultation rooms.
- Washing facilities in the room have soap dispensers and paper towels and a bin for safe disposal is provided.
- Our Optometrists will always wear the appropriate PPE according to the level of risk.
- Much of the consultation and eye examination will be carried out at a distance of two meters or more.
- The Optometrists will use a protective shield on the slit lamp, as they will be closer than 1 metre for this examination. This shield will be disinfected between patients.
- A face shield will be worn by the Optometrists for other tests within 2 metres, and it will be disinfected, between patients, on both sides.
- Patients will be advised that conversation will be kept to a minimum during the session and that they will be asked not to speak at all during some points of the examination process (when working at close proximity to the patient’s face/eyes)
- All equipment that is in contact with the patient during the examination will be disinfected between patient episodes; this includes the phoropter head, trial frame, slit lamp table and slit lamp and other ancillary equipment.
- The Optometrists will manage infection risk by regularly using hand sanitiser throughout the examination when moving from one procedure onto the next.
- Direct ophthalmoscopy is not recommended as it is too close in proximity to patients. Superior methods of posterior ocular examination such as Volk with slit-lamp, fundus photography and OCT will be used for examination of the posterior pole. Dilation of the pupils may be necessary for these procedures.
- Non-contact tonometry ‘puff of air’ is considered an aerosol risk, and superior methods of eye pressure measurements for glaucoma screening, such as Tonopen or GAT will be used.