Whilst the country continues to operate with restrictions in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19, there is a growing need to utilise digital resources in a bid to stay connected and informed.
Teleconferencing software is no longer reserved for remote work meetings or socialising with friends and family; it’s now being utilised by optometrists as a way to ensure the community can safely access time-critical and vital eye care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As such, optometrists across Australia are now offering tele-optometry consultations; more broadly known as ‘tele-health’ - using technology to communicate and provide patient care remotely.
Much like in-person consultations, each tele-optometry appointment is unique – varying from simply discussing a patient’s symptoms over the phone, through to videoconferencing appointments which allow for the viewing and sharing of images and visual diagnostics.
Tele-optometry consultations can cover a range of eye-related issues, such as:
- Replacing lost or broken glasses and determining if the patient's current prescription is acceptable
- Assisting with diagnosis and management of red or sore eyes
- Assessing the sudden onset of flashes and floaters in the eyes or other new symptoms
- Consulting and aiding diagnosis of eye conditions
- e-Prescribing medicines by developing digital copies of medical prescriptions which are then sent to the patient’s pharmacy of choice via email, text message or fax
- Performing visual field tests remotely to assess peripheral (or side) vision for conditions such as glaucoma, diabetes or neurological issues
- Advising and educating primary health care workers on techniques to assess the eyes
During these consultations, optometrists may lean on a number of tools and techniques to provide appropriate care and accurate counsel; these include print–at-home eye or online eye charts for visual acuity assessments, advanced new visual field software and animations about specific eye conditions to assist with remotely explaining symptoms and treatments.
Patients should contact their optometrist if they have any concerns, and an initial tele-conference will help your optometrist assess if you require an urgent face-to-face appointment or other treatment.
Whilst COVID-19 continues to impact our way of life, Australians should not neglect their eye health, endure discomfort or poor vision. Tele-conferencing, videoconferencing and face-to-face consultation options are being offered for these reasons.
Prior to accessing these services, your optometrist will ensure you’re fully informed of the consultation process and any associated consultation fees.
If you’re concerned about your eye health or experiencing symptoms of discomfort or changes in your vision, contact your local optometrist for expert advice and to discuss your consultation options.
Please also use our Find an Optometrist search function to find a local optometrist who offers tele-health services, by selecting COVID-19: Telehealth in the ‘Services Provided’ drop-down box, as shown in the example below.