Melbourne’s Stage 4 restrictions and what this means for residents’ eye health

Image source: The Guardian

In the ever-changing world we find ourselves in due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, all people living in Metropolitan Melbourne are now under Stage 4 restrictions in a bid to reduce infection numbers.

These restrictions essentially mean that as much as they can, Melbourne residents should stay at home. Reasons that people are allowed to leave their home include:

  • Shopping for food and other essential items
  • Exercise
  • Permitted work
  • Caregiving
  • To seek medical treatment

Amid such unprecedented restrictions, there is sometimes confusion as to what exactly they mean in particular circumstances. Here we are looking at eye health, and if and when you are allowed to visit your optometrist if you live in Melbourne.

Advice from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is that you can leave home to receive healthcare or attend medical appointments, and that you should do so and not put off getting medical care. There is also no geographical limit to seek health care.

The DHHS further advises that you can leave home to accompany someone for an essential medical treatment if you are a parent, guardian or necessary support person.

If you have – or someone you care for has - eye issues or concerns, optometrists are the primary eye care providers who enable efficient and safe management of acute and chronic eye conditions.

Optometrists have been advised by the DHHS they can continue to provide urgent care and care that is necessary to prevent deterioration of an established condition.

So, if you have a concern such as a vision disturbance, painful or red eyes, flashes of light or new floaters or you have simply lost or broken your spectacles and can’t function or work without them, these would all be considered good reasons to see your optometrist during Stage 4 restrictions.

If however, you would simply like to consider a new pair of frames, or something else that isn’t urgent, you could consider a tele-optometry consultation instead.

Many optometrists are now offering tele-health, which is 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.

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.

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