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Vision and Eye Health 2020

Your questions about visiting the optometrist answered!

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Daniel Hardiman-McCartney FCOptom

College of Optometrists

I’m worried that I may have a serious problem with my eye. Where can I go for help?

You should contact your optometrist by phone, most optometrists are offering urgent and essential eye care and have remained open throughout the pandemic. They can help if:

  • your vision has suddenly changed or become blurry;
  • you have a painful or red eye;
  • you have been advised to attend the practice by NHS 111 or another healthcare professional for urgent eye care;
  • you have broken or lost your glasses and need a replacement pair to function;
  • you have a problem with your contact lenses.

Phone the practice so they can assess how best to meet your needs.

How will I secure an appointment?

So that unnecessary contact is kept to a minimum, appointments will be scheduled over the phone or online during the recovery period. You will be asked to confirm whether you or anyone in your household has symptoms of COVID-19 (new, continuous cough; a high temperature and/or loss of or change in taste or smell), which would mean you need to self-isolate and postpone your eye care.

Currently, optometric practices will not be able to offer drop-in appointments, including for repairs and dispensing, so always call and book ahead.

Most optometrists are offering urgent and essential eye care and have remained open throughout the pandemic.

How will appointments work now?

You will be called on the day of your appointment to confirm that neither you nor anyone in your house have developed the symptoms of COVID-19.

You may be asked questions over the phone, which you would usually expect to be asked during an appointment, to help minimise the time spent in face-to-face conversation and to help your optometrist streamline your appointment to focus on your current needs. 

Where possible, please attend the practice alone. If you require a companion for support, please let the practice know in advance so they can plan for two people attending. It is recommended that a child should only be accompanied by one parent. 

Your optometrist will streamline the tests carried out, based on your needs, so it may be different to what you are used to. For the parts of the test that need to be performed within one metre, we ask that you do not speak. 

Your practice will also be encouraging contactless card payment to avoid unnecessary contact.

Is it safe to visit the optometrists?

Your local practice will have introduced measures to ensure strict hygiene standards within the practice, and there will be procedures in place to ensure the safety of patients and staff, as far as is possible.

If you need to attend the practice for a face-to-face consultation, the measures that they have put in place ensures that a sight test is both safe and sufficient to ensure your eye care needs are met. If you have concerns or consider yourself shielded, let them know: much can be done by phone or video consultation, and the optometrist will be able to post your glasses or contact lenses to you if you need them.

If you, or anyone you live with, has a persistent cough and/or high temperature and/or loss of, or change in taste or smell (anosmia), do not enter the practice. Do not go to a GP, pharmacy or hospital. Return home and stay there for 14 days.

For more information, visit the college’s patient website:

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