Return to Work: Infection Prevention and Control for Optometric Practice presents guidance for optometrists preparing for the eventual return to work during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The contents of this guidance will be reviewed and updated as Ontario progresses through each phase of its recovery, and as new guidance or recommendations are made by the provincial government.
Directive #2, which previously limited the provision of non-urgent care, was revised on May 26, 2020.
Optometry practices must comply with both the College’s Return to Work guidance and the Ministry of Health guidance COVID-19 Operational Requirements: Health Sector Restart, prior to opening.
Questions relating to practice management (e.g., billing) should be directed to the Ontario Association of Optometrists.
Where should I purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and what brands are recommended?
The College is not in a position to recommend or approve certain types/brands or PPE suppliers. Public Health Ontario has resources related to infection control practices that may be helpful to optometrists. Mouth, nose, and eyes must be covered by PPE. Prescription glasses are not acceptable as eye protection unless they are equipped with side shields.
Optometric colleagues, interprofessional colleagues, and the OAO may be able to answer specific questions or provide recommendations as to PPE currently in use.
If a patient arrives to an appointment without a mask, do I cancel the appointment?
If a patient arrives without a mask, optometrists should provide patients with a mask to wear. If the optometrist is unable to provide a mask, the appointment should be rescheduled or cancelled, or provided using telehealth if possible.
What if an optometrist or staff becomes ill with COVID-like symptoms?
Optometrists and their staff must not present to work when ill with symptoms of infection. Any person with symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home, contact their primary care provider or Telehealth Ontario, and should not return to work until they are asymptomatic and have been cleared by their primary care provider or Telehealth Ontario of any concern of COVID-19.Any confirmed case of COVID-19 in an optometrist, staff, or visitor to the office should be reported to the local public health unit. Optometrists should follow the subsequent directions of their local public health unit.
Can I use a combination of fundus photography and imaging technology (e.g., OCT) for all patients as the only method of examining the fundus, or as a substitute for dilated fundus examination?
No. The standards of practice regarding pharmacologic dilation are unchanged and may be reviewed under OPR 6.2. Please also refer to the College’s Policy on Digital Imaging/Fundus Photography in Optometric Practice.
Is it OK to use 3% hydrogen peroxide to clean Goldmann tonometer prisms? Is it OK to clean eyeglass frames using soap and warm water? These are not included among the examples cited under high- and low-level disinfectants in the College’s guidance (Control of the Environment).
Generally speaking, the answer to these questions is yes. The referenced examples are cited from a source document, and many of the examples of high-level disinfectants will only be appropriate for hard surfaces and will damage clinical equipment (e.g., tonometer probes). Optometrists should refer to manufacturer and best-practice professional guidelines, and use their clinical judgment regarding choice of disinfectant agent. Optometrists should avoid disinfectants (and/or contact times) that will damage clinical equipment or eyeglass frames (of various materials).
Can I open if my practice is located in a mall or medical building without direct street access?
The emergency orders currently in place in Ontario designate health care providers as essential services. This means that they may provide service, regardless of location, as long as they meet the infection control requirements.
This means that all optometry offices may open to provide care, however, those without immediate street-facing access should take into consideration whether the location (such as a mall) is following appropriate cleaning protocols, allows for physical distancing, and allows for a safe return to practice.