The global coronavirus pandemic has disrupted every aspect of our daily lives. As it pertains to health care in Florida, Governor DeSantis issued an executive order that all elective surgery be canceled until May 9. His most recent “safer at home” order mandates all non-essential personnel to stay home and maintain strict social distancing and other precautions to prevent the spread of the deadly virus. Notably, senior citizens, who comprise a large percentage of eye care patients in Southwest Florida, are directed to stay at home because they seem to be more vulnerable to the potentially deadly consequences of this virus.
In the face of these warnings, many patients continue to have eye problems that require ongoing care. The purpose of this article is to help those people that have new or existing eye conditions to understand how best to take care of their vision needs during the current crisis.
Our eye practice, as well as many others, continues to be open for essential eye care services. These include but are not limited to:
- Emergency visits for conditions such as a retinal detachment
- Treatments critical to saving or preserving sight including eye injections (also known as intravitreal injection therapy), for conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion.
- Follow-up care for patients who recently had eye surgery.
- Treatment for active infectious or inflammatory eye diseases.
- Screenings for patients experiencing sudden changes in vision including floaters, flashes, or loss of vision.
Our phone center, along with those of other health care providers in the area, is committed to the highest level of quality eye care and will put you in touch with the appropriate clinical specialist to answer any questions you might have. After hours, our answering service is fully staffed, and our clinical team stands ready to assist you 24/7.
Rest assured that we are taking strict infection control measures to keep visits safe such as limiting the number of patients in the waiting room; wearing additional personal protective equipment (PPE) as needed such as eye protection, face masks, and face shields; disinfection of all patient areas after each clinical examination; and keeping appointments as short as possible while providing needed examinations and treatments.
What should you do if you have ongoing eye conditions that require care but are not urgent or regarded as “essential”?
- Glasses are recommended rather than contact lenses, since eyeglasses may shield your eyes from droplets that might cause infection (though ocular transmission of coronavirus is extremely rare).
- For glaucoma patients, make sure to continue taking your prescribed medications. Since pharmacies may be overwhelmed, take inventory of all of your medications and obtain refills in advance of running out.
- Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is a rare manifestation of COVID-19. Contact your provider if you have any questions.
The financial, medical and psychosocial upheaval associated with the pandemic has created much uncertainty not just in our community but worldwide. At Frantz EyeCare, we want to ensure that everyone, no matter who their eye care provider is, continues to receive the care they need. We are all in this together!
Jonathan M. Frantz, MD, FACS
Chief Surgeon – Frantz EyeCare