Urgent Care Only – Change to Optometry Care During COVID-19

We have recently received many questions about coronavirus and optometry care, particularly with respect to the provision of non-urgent care. We have been working closely with the Ontario Association of Optometrists and the Ministry of Health to determine appropriate next steps.

At this time, the College of Optometrists of Ontario is strongly recommending that all optometry offices provide urgent care only until March 29, 2020. What constitutes urgent care is up to individual practitioners to determine but would include care for patients experiencing a sudden change in vision or injury to one or both eyes.

This recommendation is aimed at reducing community spread and supporting government calls for social distancing. The recommendation will be reviewed in 7-10 days, or sooner depending on other developments and/or advice from the federal government.

What does this mean?

Optometry offices should inform patients that they will now offer urgent care only and provide patients with a preferred means of contacting the office (e.g., by phone or email) for urgent cases. If an optometrist closes their office for any reason, including self-isolation, they must ensure patients have a means of contacting them for urgent cases.

Optometry offices can provide care and advice to patients over the phone, including triaging new patients who call with concerns about changes to their vision.

Optometrists who are unwell or who have recently returned from travel outside of Canada should self-isolate as per guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada and should not provide any care, including urgent care.

For patients who require emergency/surgical interventions, do not send patients to your local emergency room unless absolutely necessary to prevent immediate loss of vision.

Working Together

Optometry offices are encouraged to work together during this challenging time. If an optometrist is unable to provide urgent care due to self-isolation or other requirements, contact local practices to discuss redirecting patients to other local care providers.

Regulatory Obligations

The College will send additional information over the next few days regarding any possible changes to regulatory obligations such as examinations, registration, etc. The current situation is changing rapidly. Contact the College with any questions and will aim to respond within a day.

See other updates and resources on coronavirus and optometry care.