You may feel nervous about venturing out during the coronavirus pandemic but Dr. Pete Dunn and his staff at Stuttgart Vision Clinic located at 310 W. 22nd in Stuttgart, said they are following strict hygiene and disinfection guideline policies.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, Arkansans had been unable to receive routine eye care and other in-person vision care services when the directive on April 3, 2020 suspended such visits.
Optometrists resumed their routine in-person eye care visits on May 4, 2020 and business began to pick up as patients started to feel more comfortable with their providers, despite the increase in COVID-19 cases.
“We screen everyone when they arrive with temperature checks and a questionnaire regarding COVID symptoms and possible exposure to COVID-19,” said Dunn. “Everyone is required to wear a mask and we sanitize all equipment before and after each patient.”
The staff at Stuttgart Vision Clinic says taking several precautionary measures will help protect the health of their patients.
Gloves are worn for any contact with patients and replaced after each interaction. Hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer is used before and after each patient encounter also.
Patients are advised to postpone their visit if they become ill or develop symptoms related to COVID-19.
According to the American Optometric Association, patient scheduling should be staggered to enhance social distancing.
They also suggest routine services are done by appointment only and patients may be worked into the schedule as social distancing limitations allow.
No additional persons will be allowed to wait in the building, according to AOA.
In the optical, frames that are touched by patients after each encounter are also sanitized.
“When you try on a frame, we ask that you not put them back but instead lay them on the table,” said Dunn. “After you choose your frame, someone from my staff will disinfect the area and clean the frames that were tried on.”
Workstations and office space are cleaned often and patients are asked not to lean on the front desk when checking in.
“We will sanitize all equipment, chin rests, and chairs after providing services to each patient,” said Dunn.
Dunn adds exam rooms are disinfected after every patient and common areas are disinfected multiple times a day.
Eye care is also important during the pandemic as medical professionals have reported coronavirus to spread through the eyes, just as it does through the mouth and nose.
“It’s important to remember that although there is a lot of concern about coronavirus, common sense precautions can significantly reduce your risk of getting infected. So wash your hands a lot, follow good contact lens hygiene and avoid touching or rubbing your nose, mouth and especially your eyes,” says ophthalmologist Sonal Tuli, MD, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Tuli also suggests those who wear contacts consider switching to glasses for a while stating contact lens wearers touch their eyes more than the average person.
“Doctors of optometry are frontline physician providers of essential care,” the AOA wrote in a press release. “Based on the immediate health needs of a patient, doctors of optometry can and should use their professional judgment to determine the timing and course of care, including assessing patient expressed urgency, necessary preventive care, and the monitoring and refilling of prescriptions.”