The aim of this project was to evaluate which personal protective equipment (PPE) eye care practitioners (ECP) will use during the next months and also what they will ask the patient to use in clinical practice.
A social-media survey was carried out, asking 257 optometrists and opticians in Germany, Austria and Switzerland (i) which PPE they intended to use in the future (after lockdown and before herd immunity and / or vaccine availability) and (ii) what they would ask the patient to do in terms of this.
75 % of the ECPs planned on wearing masks during refractions and 69 % when fitting contact lens. 62 % of the ECPs also expected their patients to wear masks in these tasks. This number is higher than for distance tasks such as fitting frames. Around 90 % of the ECPs would, in addition to hand washing, disinfect their hands and around 80 % expected their patients to do so too. Less than one third of ECPs favoured wearing safety spectacles, gloves and / or protective facial shields. 73 % planed on disinfecting frames after they would have been tried on by customers.
In summary, most ECPs planed on continuing to use higher standards of PPE. Those, who intended to wear masks themselves, would ask their patients to also do so, combined with hand disinfection.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the rapid spread of cases of COVID-19 a pandemic on 11th March, 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic is a challenging situation for the general population and especially for eye care practitioners working in close proximity to patients [ ]. At the beginning of March 2020, different authorities for example the “Zentral Verband für Augenoptik und Optometrie” (ZVA, National Association of Optics and Optometry, Germany) and the College of Optometrists (UK) [ ] or the “Berufsgenossenschaft” (BG, German Employer`s Liability Insurance Association) published special recommendations in terms of personal protective equipment. During the current full lockdown (mid-March to end of April), almost all optometry and optic practices in Germany, Austria and Switzerland were only offering emergency services during restricted opening times [ ]. Nevertheless, exit strategies are discussed and it is of interest to know how eye care practitioners plan on protecting themselves against infection of COVID-19 during the upcoming months, after the lockdown phase. During this time there will still be a high risk of infection from CORVID-19 until population immunity (herd immunity) has developed and/or vaccine is available. The aims of this first phase of the project were (i) to evaluate which personal protective equipment eye care practitioners intend to use during the upcoming months and (ii) what they plan on asking their patients to use in their clinical practices. Subsequently, a following survey will evaluated how they are actually working then to see how attitudes may have changed in the meantime. This short paper summarizes the first survey`s results briefly.
A social-media survey (SurveyMonkey Europe UC, Dublin, Ireland) was carried out to ask the community of optometrists and opticians in Germany, Austria and Switzerland: (i) which personal protective equipment they will use in the future (after lockdown and before herd immunity and / or vaccine availability), and (ii) what they will ask the patient to do during the same time periods. Based on 12 questions, use of personal protective equipment was evaluated in different sub-categories such as fitting contact lenses or doing refractions (i.e. longer duration close working distance tasks; <0.5 m, commonly a practitioner is 10−20 min at this close distance), anatomical fitting of frames, lens and frame measurements (i.e. close working distance tasks; <0.5 m, commonly a practitioner is less than 5 min at this close distance) as well as assisting patients in frame choice (i.e. far working distance tasks; ∼1 m distance). From 08 March 2020 until 13 March2020 257 eye care practitioners completed the survey. The survey was carried out in facebook groups exclusive for optometrists and opticians. Furthermore, the “Vereinigung deutscher Contactlinsen Spezialisten und Optometristen” (VDCO), (Association of Contact Lens Specialists and Optometrists) forwarded the link of the survey to their members. As this is a first short excerpt of the survey project, only the most important descriptive data are presented.
Most eye care practitioners intended to wear surgical masks (44 %) or FFP2/3 masks (31 %) during refractions, and 39 % and 30 % during contact lens appointments, respectively. 62 % of the eye care practitioners also expected the patients to wear masks during these “longer duration close working distance tasks”. This number is higher than in “close working distance tasks” or “far working distance tasks” ( Fig. 1 ). For all tasks, 90 % of the eye care practitioners would in addition to hand washing disinfect their hands, and around 80 % expect the patients to also do so.