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Contact lens practice in the COVID-19 scenario

The COVID-19 pandemic is a very fast-moving situation that requires a scientific approach to adapting our clinical practice. That was the message from Dr Shehzad Naroo and Professor Philip Morgan presenting the last in our series of Tuesday webinars on hot topics in contact lenses

‘We’ve all been trained to think clinically, logically and scientifically. But now is really the time to use all those skills and get on top of the information that’s available,’ said IACLE Vice President Professor Philip Morgan, introducing the webinar presented jointly with President Dr Shehzad Naroo.

This final event in our latest series of webinars attracted more than 200 IACLE members and students watching live around the world via Zoom and – in a first for IACLE’s global events – on Facebook. Many more have watched the recorded version now available on our new teaching online platform, IACLETOP.

View the recorded lecture under Webinars on IACLETOP

The webinar described the current evidence around contact lens wear during the pandemic and important recommendations for practitioners and wearers. It also covered what is known about the interaction of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the ocular surface, and what contact lens practice might look like in the future.

Professor Morgan said were that three key steps in contact lens care to stress at this time:

  • Handwashing
  • Rubbing and rinsing lenses
  • Case cleaning

All were known to be associated with increased infection and inflammation if not done. All showed patient compliance levels below 50%. And all could be improved on if more information was provided to patients. ‘These are three very important steps that could make a difference,’ he said.

Dr Naroo posed these questions on the future for primary eye care in light of the pandemic:

  • What will be the ‘new normal’?
  • What will be considered best practice?  

Minimizing transmission of the virus would require increased hand sanitizing, health monitoring of practitioners and staff, new ways of managing patients such as triaging by telephone , the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and disinfection of contact lens equipment and trial lenses. ‘Normal will be redefined in all areas of life,’ he concluded.

A Q&A session covered a range of topics from the efficacy of contact lens solutions against the virus to whether practitioners should be switching reusable soft lens wearers to daily disposables. The consensus was that messaging at this time should be unequivocal and advice on usual lens care procedures reinforced. Any prescribing decisions should be made in a considered way over time, in the course of regular patient aftercare.

  • The next series of IACLE webinars continues with Richard Beggs. Lecturer in Higher Education Practice at Ulster University in Northern Ireland, UK on ‘Delivering your teaching online’. The webinar will take place on Tuesday 23 June at 2pm London time (British Summer Time, BST). Look out for more global, regional and national online events soon.