Since the Coronavirus lockdown started in Ontario, opticians and other healthcare professionals are required to avoid non-essential services. The Ministry of Health issued this directive to protect the public and healthcare providers. So for as long as the lockdown continues, we should expect this to be the new norm. The good news is all regulatory bodies, including the College of Opticians of Ontario (COO), have issued guidelines to help both healthcare providers and the patients to navigate through these challenging times. So if you are wondering how to know your optician is going to be Coronavirus ready, today’s post is going to be your guide.
What to Do During the Lockdown
The rule of thumb is only to visit your optician if it is necessary. But what is considered “necessary” during the pandemic? The College of Opticians of Ontario says “critical repairs or replacements of eyeglasses and refilling contact lenses that impact the health and daily functioning of the patient”. The best way to find out if your specific issue needs urgent care is to contact your optician and consult them. However, don’t fret if you don’t know an optician or if your optician is unavailable, the COO can help you find one. As of April 15/2020, the COO announced working on building an online directory on their website, where you can search for available opticians in your area.
Opticians are encouraged to practice “remote dispensing” to protect the safety of their patients, themselves, and their families. Although it is not the standard or the ideal way to dispense eyewear, it eliminates the risk of contracting or spreading the Coronavirus in the community. Remote dispensing could be the solution to your specific problem, but only your optician can tell you that using their professional judgment. So don’t hesitate to call them!
Things to Consider if You Are a New Patient
If you are consulting an optician as a new patient, be prepared to disclose;
Your contact information
Provide your full name, DOB, phone number, home address, and email address as alternative communication (you can ask not to receive promotional material)
Your medical history
Let the optician know whether you are suffering from any systemic diseases, taking medication, had any eye-related injuries or procedures done, and the date of your last eye exam. Also, make sure to provide a copy of your most recent eyewear prescription.
Your use of eyewear (i.e. glasses, contact lenses & other visual aid devices)
Let the optician know the type of eyewear you use, how long you have been using them, and how you use them (i.e. wearing contact lenses occasionally, or wearing protective eyewear due to an injury, and so on). The more information you provide, the better the optician could help you.
Things to Consider if You Are a Returning Patient
If you are a returning patient, your optician should have the information from your last visit on file. However, consider disclosing any updates or changes to your health, vision, and living conditions that could impact your use of eyewear.
When the Lockdown Is Over
You might have heard health officials warning about the risk of a resurgence. To prevent that, we should continue to take safety measures even after the lockdown is over. As the days go on the health regulatory bodies will continue to update their members on safe practice guidelines. Let’s have a look at the safety procedures your optician should take to be prepared.
What to Expect From Your Optician
To make sure your optician is Coronavirus ready, don’t hesitate to call in and ask questions. In “Is Your Optometrist Coronavirus Ready?” we covered necessary safety measures, that applies to opticians and other health professionals as well. So let’s review things you should ask your optician before visiting the dispensary.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Naturally, when you visit a dispensary to get fitted with eyewear, the optician has to be close to you to assess the fit of the eyewear, make necessary adjustments, and take the required measurements. This violates the minimum standard for physical distancing, which is 2 m. So for safety reasons, both you and your optician should wear PPE to minimize the risk of COVID-19 spread. So when you call in, make sure to ask whether they have proper PPE, or know an optician who has.
Proper Cleaning & Disinfecting Procedures
The dispensary must be cleaned on a regular basis, and the optician has to make sure all common areas, equipment, and frames are properly disinfected in between patients;
- Any frames that have been put on by patients must be disinfected before returning to frame boards.
- All tools and equipment, such as the PD meter, the PD ruler, trial frame, pliers, and screwdrivers have to be disinfected in between patients.
- Common areas, such as the reception, the waiting area, and the dispensing table must be disinfected between patients, as well.
Scheduled Visits, Only!
Ask your optician about their visit schedule. The safest option would be to book an appointment in advance. Since most dispensaries have limited floor space, you want to make sure you can maintain the required physical distance with others.
Next, you should keep in mind service delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ask your optician about the approximate length of consultation and the wait-time for service delivery. It is possible that you have to wait longer than usual for your optician to properly disinfect equipment for your use or to process and dispense your eyewear order.
When the risk of contamination is high, avoid in-person visits. Instead, arrange for a virtual consultation with your optician.
What Your Optician Expects From You
Ideally, during the pandemic, your optician would want you to call in advance and schedule an appointment. This way they can make sure no one’s safety is going to be compromised with a surprise walk-in visit.
Updates on Health Condition
Let your optician know if you had any changes in your health condition recently. If you suspect you might have contracted the Coronavirus take the online self-assessment, and cancel any non-essential visits.
Make sure to provide multiple communication methods, such as email address and alternate phone number. During these uncertain times, your optician might need to update you on crucial information. Examples would be delays in your orders or temporary closure of the dispensary due to contamination.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, access to many services has been limited. It is challenging, but it serves the best interest of all of us. If you are experiencing any eyewear-related issues, it is best to contact your optician for consultation. They can tell you if an in-person visit is necessary or not. There are safe practice guidelines for opticians to follow to be Coronavirus ready, even after the lockdown is over. However, before any in-person visits, you should communicate your concerns with your optician.
I hope this post finds you well!
As always, feel free to ask your questions or leave a comment about your recent visit to the optician. And remember to stay safe!