In the age of a pandemic where everyone is concerned about contracting the COVID-19 virus, especially the elderly and vulnerable populations, life is anything but “normal.” Still, life goes on and other diseases and emergency conditions need to be addressed. What about ocular emergencies? How does one address concerns about eye pain or sudden loss of vision while still sheltering in place?
Our Cowichan Eyecare clinics are now offering live telemedical consults through a secure portal called doxy.me (Doc see me! Pretty punny). This allows our doctors to consult with patients and discuss potential conditions as well as do remote follow-ups, take screenshots and generally consult. This in no way replaces a full eye exam, but it does facilitate a consultation where many ocular surface conditions can be addressed telemedically.
What Conditions are best for Tele-Optometry?
Dry, itchy, red eyes; ocular transient aura, follow up for corneal abrasion, foreign body removals and conjunctivitis are just some examples of conditions that can be followed through tele-optometry. The government of BC has recently recognized the need for tele-optometry and has partially funded these services through MSP (Medical Services Plan of BC). Other conditions such as complete loss of vision, double vision and refractive errors still require in-person comprehensive ocular assessments
Pandemic Protection Plan
Cowichan Eyecare has introduced the PPP (Pandemic Protection Plan). The purpose is to provide safeguards and sanitization to reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19 when in-office routine eye care visits are permitted. We have instituted protocols to protect patients, staff and doctors. Here is a review of the highlights: all patients will be asked to wash their hands and wear a provided mask when in the office; all patients entering the office will have their temperature checked to ensure no fever, those who are sick or present with a fever will not be permitted entry; all doctors and staff will be wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to safeguard everyone as well as themselves, this includes medical masks and eye protection; procedures such as lid cleanings, contact lens trainings and close contact will require staff to wear face shields; our doctor’s microscopes have been fitted with breath guards; all frames that have been tried on will be “cured” in our UV oven; all areas that patient’s contact will be sanitized immediately after the patient vacates that area, doctors and staff will be washing hands several times per hour and often many times during the eye exam and patients will be provided an antiseptic lid wipe to clean their eyes when they get home
Care 1 Collaborative Telemedicine
At our Cowichan Eyecare clinics, we are also utilizing an innovative optometrist/ophthalmologist telemedicine platform called Care1 (www.care1.ca). This allows seamless remote consults and collaborations with optometrists and ophthalmologists. This is very high tech and provides a very high level of collaborative care. Our doctors have been using this platform for over seven years. One big advantage of Care1 is that many patients do not have to go to the ophthalmologists’ office in-person, and thus reduces their risk of catching the virus and the potential medical issues that can occur with COVID-19.
We hope you all stay safe and well. Please know that we are here for all your eyecare needs and we take your safety seriously.