LEADING OFF: Coronavirus: Prevention Tips for Optometrists

Last updated 4/1/20. ‚Äč

The coronavirus has now infected 186,101 individuals in the United States, with total deaths at 3,603, reports the CDC. What can O.D.s do to protect from the condition, which masquerades as a common cold and develops into lower-respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia?

“Any time you’re dealing with a patient with a potentially infectious virus, doctors of optometry and other health care providers should make sure they have a clear understanding of the proper protocols to prevent the spread of infection,” says AOA President Barbara L. Horn, O.D. “Vigilance and just using good hygiene — thorough handwashing, using gloves, disinfecting equipment and other recommendations provided by the CDC — in the office when in contact with bodily fluids, such as tears, will go a long way toward preventing infection. It is important to proactively reinforce such infection mitigation techniques with doctors and staff. . .”

Coronavirus up close

In addition to handwashing (see ), the CDC also urges avoiding touching one’s eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands and close contact with those who are ill.

Paul Kellam, a professor of Virus Genomics at Imperial College London, told the Daily Mail he suggests health care workers wear eye protection, in addition to face masks, as the flu and other viruses can be transmitted to the eye via droplets from a sneeze, for example.

Dr. Horn encourages doctors to be aware of potential coronavirus activity in their area. If they live in any of the currently affected areas, they can minimize the risk of exposure by encouraging patients to stay home if they have cold, flu or respiratory symptoms. (Also, see .)

The coronavirus originated in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. There are now (Feb. 18) 72,436 confirmed cases and 1,868-related deaths in mainland China. OM

Additional resources: 

Date added News item(s)
4/1 Nathan Hayes, IDOC consultant, provides actionable steps for making the most of this time to the benefit of your practice in Tip of the Week. View the newsletter here and subscribe at
American Foundation for the Blind is providing guidance for those students, who are blind or low vision, and now find themselves being schooled at home:
3/31 Walman Optical has introduced a complimentary help line to aid independent eye care practices during the pandemic. Ask Walman is available to everyone, and is a confidential service. It's open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST at (855) 868-1076 or
Dr. Scot Morris provides a business checklist in his Eyecare During the Coronavirus Pandemic series:
Additionally, Dr. Pamela Miller provides tips on being precautious while operating as normal, also in Eyecare During the Coroavirus Pandemic series:
3/30 Eyecare During the Coronavirus Pandemic series continues with Dr. Justin Bazan offering the tip to send an email to patients reminding them of the impending grace period deadline to FSA spending and how they can utilize those funds at the practice:
Eyecare Business is hosting a Facebook Live panel discussion on Wednesday, April 1, at noon. The topic: “Leading Through Uncertainty: Critical Business Strategies for Eyecare Professionals During COVID-19.” Panelists include Drs. Eric White and Bridgette Shen Lee as well as Sheena Taff, optical manager and optician. Tune in at
Power Hour podcast hosted a special, two-night event titled #Save2020Eyecare. On Wed., March 25, and Thurs., March 26, executives from ABB Optical, Alcon, Bausch + Lomb, ClearVision, CooperVision, DeRigo Rem, Essilor, EyeMed, HEA, Johnson & Johnson Vision, Luxottica, NECO, Sanitas Advisors, Visioneering Technologies, VisionOne, VSP and Walman Optical gathered in a town hall environment to discuss how the industry can band together during the pandemic. You can listen to the episodes in full at
Contact Lens Today compiled reader commentary from contact lens practitioners throughout the world in this week's edition of the newsletter. Read it here:
Additionally, from Contact Lens Spectrum, "Weatheirng the COVID-19 Storm: Expoerts discuss strategies for managing their contact lens practices during COVID-19 pandemic" by Edward S. Bennett, OD, MSED, is available at
3/27 In a letter to its membership, the AOA announced it is mobilizing to support and serve its members through a comprehensive plan to “fully assemble the AOA for the existential crisis our profession is now facing.” The letter contains links to updated information on practice guidance, resources and expanded member benefits, as well as a summary of the AOA’s actions taken so far to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Read it in full at
Eyecare During the Coronavirus Pandemic series continues with co-foudner of Treehouse Eyes, Matt Oerding sharing his tip to utilize videoconferencing:
3/26 Eyecare During the Coronavirus Pandemic series continues with Dr. Gina Wesley providing business survival steps, at, and Dr. Sheldon Kreda provides information about social distancing in practice, at
Contact Lens Spectrum reached out to a number of prominent eyecare professionals to obtain their input on how they are managing contact lens patients during this challenging time:
3/25 ZEISS Medical Technology has launched a new website, ZEISS MED Support Now, to provide acccess to resources, such as continuing education and how to properly disinfect its devices. The website can be found at and will be updated regularly.
The Vision Council has added a “coronavirus implications” page to its website that includes each state’s guidelines for essential operations:
Eyecare During the Coronavirus Pandemic, a limited series from Optometric Management, provides tips from our editorial board members on navigating eyecare during the crisis. In the first installment, Dr. Andy Gurwood offers his how-to steps from the Philadelphia area. Read it at
O.D. Notebook opens with tips on communicating contact lens wear concerns to patients, available at
3/24 Industry podcast, Power Hour, from Dr. Gary Gerber will host a special two-night town hall on Wednesday, March 25, and Thursday, March 26, at 9 p.m. The town hall will feature a panel of industry experts discussing the steps the eyecare industry can take in the face of COVD-19 pandemic. More information and how to join:
3/23 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is offering resources for clinics and healthcare facilities during this pandemic:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued the first emergency use authorization for a point-of-care COVID-19 diagnostic for the Cepheid Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2 test. Additional details are avaiable on the FDA site:
The FDA also provided a guidance document on "Conduct of Clinical Trials of Medical Products during COVID-19 Pandemic":
COPE temporarily changes rules for CE through May 31. The organization's guidelines can be found at
The International Association for Contact Lens Educators (IACLE) is offering all educators access to online resources for remote teaching during the pandemic. Visit and navigate to the "Free Resources" area. 
3/16-3/20 The American Optometric Association published "News for the optometric professional and general public," which can be found at
American Academy of Ophthalmology released, and is updating, "Alert: Important coronavirus updates for ophthalmologists" which may be pertinent to optometry offices as well:
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid released "COVD-19 Emergency Declaration Health Care Providers Fact Sheet" that can be found at
Additionally, CMS also published an article on the steps it's taking, "CMS Takes Action Nationwide to Aggressively Respond to Coronavirus National Emergency," accessible at
The Centre for Ocular Research and Education published a special issue of its educational Contact Lens Update, with resources for practitioners regarding COVD-19:
The AOA has issued a Health Policy Institute statment, which can be found at
Quidel receives emergency authorization for COVD-19 Test. Read more:
IDOC's Steve Vargo, O.D., and Nathan Hayes, finance consultant, released a podcast on how to weather the financial storm today:

OM will continue to update this page with resources as they become available.

To receive regular updates, delivered to your inbox, on the news and resources offered by industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic, be sure to subscribe to Contact Lens Today, a newsletter for our sister publication, Contact Lens Spectrum.