Many routine eye exams were postponed in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in response to guidelines on social distancing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With more states now in various phases of reopening, most eye care professionals are beginning to see patients again. They are also taking several precautions to protect your health from the virus, including following strict hygiene and disinfection guidelines for their offices. You should expect many changes to in-person appointments, including how you schedule them and what happens before and during your exam.
Here are 5 steps to take in order to have a successful visit with your eye care professional.
- Be sure to schedule an appointment in advance. Many practices are no longer accepting walk-ins and may have limited hours. This allows staff to clean and disinfect between patients and assures that your exposure to other patients in the waiting room will be limited. Use your carrier’s eye care professional locator to find an eye care professional and their contact information. Visit the eye care professional’s web site to get additional information and feel free to ask questions when you call for the appointment to ensure you feel comfortable with the office visit.
- Verify the eye care professional’s screening parameters. Your eye care professional may ask you to wait outside, or in your car, instead of in the normal waiting room. This is to protect you, other patients, and office staff from possible exposure in crowded waiting areas. Your temperature may be checked before you enter the building. Your eye care professional may ask that you come alone, if possible, to limit the number of people in the office.
- Take your temperature yourself at home before you come to the appointment. Reschedule if it’s above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius. Even if your temperature is normal, if you have a cough or have been in close contact with someone who is ill, be sure to call your eye care professional’s office ahead of time and let them know. If your visit is not urgent, they may want you to stay home.
- Bring a mask. Your eye care professional will want you to wear it at all times during your visit. You and your eye care professional will be in very close physical proximity during the exam. Masks will keep both of you safe from droplets that can be expressed through your mouth or nose, even if no one coughs or sneezes.
- Don’t forget any necessary paperwork. Be sure to bring your member ID, as well as any other important documents, such as your medical history. Some practitioners will ask you to fill out forms online and bring them with you, to save time and to minimize the need to use pens in the office.
Although some of us are still social distancing and hesitant to leave our homes, it’s important not to neglect your eyes. You can feel secure knowing that your eye care professional is taking the necessary steps to protect your health during this very important check-up.