Stage 4 lockdown – we're still open, for issues that can't wait
The main purpose of Victoria’s Stage 4 lockdown is to minimise contact between people as much as possible during those six weeks. So we will look to delay as many appointments as we can for those issues that can reasonably wait until the end of that period.
The Victorian Chief Allied Health Officer has stated that we may only provide services "that prevent a significant change or deterioration in functional independence necessitating escalation of care". Routine services are specifically not permitted.
Of course there are instances where care should not be delayed. These include true emergencies and circumstances where you are no longer able to function, such as breakage of loss of glasses that you are dependent on. We are still available to deal with these cases and stress that these should not be ignored.
Hopefully the lockdown will end after six weeks as initially scheduled and we can return closer still to what was the old normal. We will also allow some limited flexibility to what is outlined below.
A guide to the services that are and are not available
Examples of urgent and important issues for which we are available and for which you should seek prompt care include:
- Sudden change or loss of vision
- Seeing flashes of light and/or significant new floaters
- Seeing haloes around lights
- Red, painful eyes; suspected eye infections; foreign bodies in the eye
- Sudden onset of headaches and/or double vision
- If you take eye drops restricted to prescription and this needs to be renewed
- If you have been referred by another optometrist or your GP
- Urgent replacement of lost or broken glasses if they are required for your everyday tasks
- Contact lens orders (preferably made over the phone)
If you believe you are experiencing a true emergency outside our practice hours you should attend your local hospital or the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in East Melbourne.
We are not generally available for:
- Routine eye examinations; if you are not currently experiencing any problems you should feel perfectly comfortable delaying your regular check-up until the current situation is behind us
- Spectacle adjustments
- Browsing for new frames
- Purchasing of new spectacles purely to meet health fund deadlines
The regular monitoring of chronic eye diseases such as cataract or glaucoma can usually also be deferred for the scheduled six-week period of Stage 4 lockdown. But in the longer term once the Stage 4 restrictions have expired we reiterate recent government advice that people with chronic health conditions should not avoid clinically necessary reviews.
Some of us are at greater risk from COVID-19. If this is the case for you, we suggest taking a suitably cautious approach to making appointments, but not to the point of ignoring your eye health.
If you are unsure whether or not you should attend the practice, please contact us either by phone or email and one of the optometrists will be happy to discuss your situation with you.
What you can expect when you visit us and what we will ask you to do
In order to help control the number of people in the practice at any one time, we ask that you contact us to make an appointment prior to coming to the practice. This applies not just to appointments with your optometrist, but if you wish to see one of the dispensing staff, for example if looking for new glasses.
As we have been doing for some time, we will continue to ask questions to check that you are not currently unwell or at greater risk of carrying the coronavirus, for example having been in close contact with another person diagnosed or suspected of having COVID-19.
Where possible we ask that you attend the practice unaccompanied. If you need to be accompanied this must be limited to one person; generally (with some exceptions) accompanying persons will not be admitted to the consulting room and should remain in the waiting area.
All patients should use the hand sanitiser at reception on arrival at the practice, and before trying on any frames.
For your safety and ours, we especially ask that you have downloaded the COVID-safe app and have it running when in the practice.
You may find that your consultations are slightly shorter than usual in order to keep contact times in close proximity as short as possible, and that we concentrate primarily on your immediate needs. If you feel after your examination that you need further explanation regarding your eyes, our optometrists will be very happy to discuss further over the telephone.
We ask that payments be contactless. We are very happy to take orders and payments over the telephone for items such as disposable contact lenses, and to post those items out without further charge.
How else we will keep you (and us) safe
Hand sanitiser is readily available in a prominent position at reception for patients’ use and is also regularly used by all optometrists and staff.
Appointments are spaced further apart than usual to minimise the number of people in the practice at any one time. This also enables the consulting rooms to be thoroughly wiped down between patients.
Optometrists and staff will maintain strict hygiene procedures including the regular washing and sanitising of hands. Alcohol wipes are applied to equipment in consulting rooms and for imaging between every patient.
Our EFTPOS terminal pad will also be regularly disinfected with wipes containing alcohol.
In line with Victorian government directives, all optometrists and or staff will wear a mask when attending to you, and of course all patients must wear a mask too unless they have an exemption. Spare masks are also available in the practice.
Any frame that has been tried by other patients will be removed from the display and not replaced until it has been appropriately cleaned.
We'd like to reassure you that we are following the recommendations of the Australian government and of our professional and governing bodies to slow the spread of coronavirus.