Meeting the eye care needs of people at higher risk of COVID-19

Press release from the Optical Confederation’s Domiciliary Eyecare Committee (DEC)

The Optical Confederation’s Domiciliary Eyecare Committee (DEC) has highlighted the importance of eye health and vision care in a statement today. It has also issued guidance to support the provision of eye care to adults who are extremely clinically vulnerable and clinically vulnerable, as well as those who are unable to leave home owing to physical or mental ill-health or disability.

As well as patients who cannot leave home for non COVID-19 reasons, 2.5 million people in the UK are now shielding on medical advice. Many more people have been advised to physically isolate or have chosen to do so based on their risk assessments, because of the pandemic. 
Vision is crucial for people in isolation for social functioning and mental health reasons. Such groups will also be highly vulnerable to eye disease because of age and other conditions, and they will have seen their eye health deteriorate during the past 10 weeks of lockdown.

Much more is now known about the disease and how it is spread than in March. Also, personal protective equipment (PPE) and rigorous infection prevention and control (IPC) are in place to protect patients, staff and the public. As a result, eye care can be safely provided in private homes and care home settings using remote first and safety first principles based on assessed risk for each patient and location. 

Gordon Ilett, Co-chair of the DEC, said: “Vision and healthy eyes are critical to people who cannot leave home, may have other long-term conditions or who are isolating. Eye disease is insidious and can be catastrophic. We must not fail the most vulnerable in society by denying them the eye care they need to stay fit and well.”  

Notes to Editors

The Optical Confederation (OC) represents the 13,000 optometrists, 6,000 dispensing opticians and 7,000 optical businesses in the UK who provide high quality and accessible eye care services to the public.

The OC is a coalition of five optical representative bodies: the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO); the Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers (ACLM); the Association of Optometrists (AOP); the Federation of Manufacturing Opticians (FMO) and the Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians (FODO). As a Confederation, we work with others to improve eye health for the public good.