October 28th, 2020

Optometrists offering emergency services


By Beeber, Al on March 27, 2020.

Al Beeber

Lethbridge Herald

abeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The Alberta College of Optometrists is telling its members to offer only necessary services.

An updated email was sent to optometrists earlier this week stating “remember, this pandemic is still not under total control.”

The directive states “as of right now, we still direct all optometry offices to only offer necessary services, space patient appointments apart . . . and utilize enhanced disinfection protocols.”

Dr. Len Ferguson, a downtown optometrist, is among those only offering emergency services in Lethbridge.

Ferguson said optometrists are trying to take pressure off emergency services in hospitals by remaining open for those with serious need of eye care.

“We simply want to take the burden off the Chinook Regional Hospital emergency ward so a person wouldn’t have to be exposed to coronavirus,” said Ferguson by phone Tuesday.

“We can’t do routine eye checkups; people will have to wait until the COVID-19 (crisis) is blown over. We’ve got to get on this and social-isolate,” said Ferguson.

Emergency cases would include a person, such as a diabetic, whose vision is suddenly deteriorating or eye infections with mucus discharging.

“Please bear in mind with routine eye checkups, we’re going to defer that,” said Ferguson.

When dealing with emergencies, optometrists will be taking necessary safety precautions which include donning mask, gloves and eye protection.

“Our goal is to relieve the health-care burden. We have to delay things and flatten the curve.”

In its directive, the College of Optometrists states “the COVID growth curve appears to be flattening; however, it is still to early to make any firm prediction on future numbers. The good news is that forcing optometry offices to bar only necessary services has meshed with the provincial total closure of schools, bars, etc., to severely limit the number of community spread cases.”

Those requiring contact lenses can still contact their optometrist to have them delivered.

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