AOA Doctors of Optometry Prioritize Patient Health and Safety As Practices Reopen

Doctors of optometry nationwide are implementing new protocols to safely return to providing the full range of eye health and vision care services Americans need and deserve

ST. LOUIS - May 20, 2020—Across the country, doctors of optometry are resuming the delivery of complete, comprehensive eye health and vision care under a guided transition as part of America's COVID-19 pandemic response. While practice operations will proceed under a "new normal," the American Optometric Association (AOA) and member doctors are working to ensure the continued safe delivery of essential eye care during the COVID19 public health emergency for patients and the public.

"As our nation's and optometry's response to the crisis enter a new phase, doctors of optometry are implementing new protocols to provide the care patients are seeking in a safe and healthy environment," says Barbara L. Horn, O.D., AOA president. "Whether you have eye health or urgent care needs, concerns about your eyes or vision, such as digital eye strain or dry eyes, or it's time for a comprehensive eye exam or contact lens evaluation, the public can continue to look to doctors of optometry as trusted health care professionals providing essential primary eye care."

While changes will vary from state-to-state and with individual practice locations, patients can be assured that doctors of optometry are adhering to federal, state and local health directives regarding infection prevention measures and implementing appropriate safety procedures within the office. These not only include strict protocols for cleaning and sterilization, but measures to effectively manage patient flow and encourage physical distancing.

Some of the new protocols patients can anticipate may include screening for symptoms of COVID-19 and taking temperature upon arrival at the facility, limiting the number of guests allowed in waiting rooms and requiring everyone to wear a facemask and/or gloves before entering the office. In addition, many practices may initially reopen under a limited number of hours, with priority being given to patients who require more urgent or emergent care.

In addition to following office procedures, patients can also take steps to maintain their health and safety. The AOA provides the following recommendations to help patients prepare for their office visit:

  • When scheduling your appointment, ask your doctor about safety protocols they have in place to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission within the office.
  • Notify your doctor if you or anyone in your household display any signs or symptoms of COVID-19. If you are experiencing symptoms, such as loss of the sense of smell or taste, or have fever or cough, consult with your primary care provider first unless you are experiencing ocular-related emergency warning signs.
  • Many health care offices will request that you attend your appointment without accompaniment, unless you require assistance. If you do need assistance, alert the staff to your needs to help the office manage patient flow efficiently.
  • The use of a facemask or cloth face cover that covers your nose and mouth and gloves is strongly recommended, and may even be required to enter a healthcare facility.
  • Continue to keep about six feet between yourself and others. A cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands while in the office.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Bring hand sanitizer with you in case you are unable to wash your hands as necessary.

For more information about eye health and to find a local AOA doctor of optometry, visit aoa.org/eyehealthCOVID19

Media Contact: Yakesha Cooper, Ycooper@aoa.org