Eye Clinics During and After Coronavirus

Posted: Thursday 13 August 2020

In the first of our Virtual Clinic events consultant ophthalmologist Robin Hamilton said the coronavirus crisis has presented an opportunity to improve hospital eye care services.

Robin Hamilton, from Moorfields, was the guest speaker at the first in a new series of webinars hosted by the Society on Tuesday evening. In his talk Eye Clinics During and After Coronavirus he said although the crisis has been difficult for everyone, he is hopeful the changes put in place to ensure patient safety in eye clinics, will ultimately transform services for the better.

Speaking at the event on Tuesday 11 August, he said: “It has given a number of people an opportunity to look at how to deliver eye services potentially better and in a different way.”

He discussed the COVID-19 Urgent Eyecare Service which has been set up in Manchester and its potential to be rolled out nationally.

The initiative has been put in place to ensure that during the pandemic people can access urgent eye care through optometry practices, to prevent them from having to go to hospital and reduce the demand on hospital eye services.

He said the service had the potential to manage up to three quarters of patients outside of hospital and they were looking at rolling it out at other trusts across the UK.

He said: “We know if we can get detail from optometrists to the local eye services in the form of visual acuities,  letters and in particular OCT scans and the full OCT scan, so it can be reviewed and potentially compared to previous OCT scans then we do feel even that even up to three quarters of patients may well be able to be managed just by an optometry visit. So, if we can reduce a large number of unnecessary visits to hospital that has to be a good thing.”

Robin also spoke about the increasing number of home-monitoring services now available on computers, tablets and smart phones. He said these would also reduce unnecessary hospital visits, but also ensure patients were receiving timely care. 

He added: “I think there are going to be a whole host of other things. I hate to say we are taking this as an opportunity, but I have to take it as an opportunity to make sure the service when it gets back to some form of normality is much better, much safer, the outcomes are better and the patient experience is better. I think therefore for me has got to be an opportunity and we’ve got to take it as that.”

Listen to Robin Hamilton's talk, Eye Clinics During and After Coronavirus

The Virtual Clinic events will take place on the second Tuesday of every month at 7pm. The next event is Dry AMD and the Potential for Treatments and will take place on Tuesday 8 September.