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Doctors of optometry prepare to reopen practices

FRANKFORT Doctors of optometry prepare to reopen their practices to non-emergency patients starting today per the direction of Governor Andy Beshear and Commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health Dr. Steven Stack.

“We appreciate the confidence Gov. Beshear and Dr. Stack have in our profession to be among the first health-care providers to begin seeing more patients,” said Dr. Aaron McNulty, who practices in Louisville and is president of the Kentucky Optometric Association. “Kentucky doctors of optometry have been safely providing urgent eye care services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and assisting in the Commonwealth’s healthcare response.  Now, optometrists are needed to provide deferred care and additional in-person care for citizens, as we continue to help alleviate the demands on other healthcare providers and facilities during COVID-19.

“We have worked collaboratively to ensure that our plan to reopen protects our patients and employees – understanding that the procedures in place before the pandemic are not sufficient in today’s climate.”

Following state-issued directives and reviewing and implementing guidelines from the Center for Disease Controls and Prevention and American Optometric Association, the KOA and its members worked closely with Kentucky Board of Optometric Examiners and the Department for Public Health to create procedures and policies that meet or exceed the necessary requirements to reopen. The plans include standards on:

  • Physical distancing
  • Consideration for at-risk patients
  • Limiting patients’ time in the offices
  • Screening of patients and employees
  • Employee sick leave
  • Reporting
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Infection control

The guidelines are not office specific. Each doctor will review the requirements and  determine the best way to meet these requirements in his or her office before opening. Plans will be reviewed and amended appropriately as circumstances change.

To view the guidelines, visit https://kyeyes.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Optometry-Healthy-at-Work-Reopening-Guidelines.pdf.

“Optometrists serve as the primary-care doctor for the eyes,” McNulty said. “We are on the frontlines of detecting diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration. During an annual, comprehensive eye exam, doctors of optometry also can identify early warning signs of more than 270 diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases and cancers. It is critical for the health of our patients that we can begin these examinations again.”

About the Kentucky Optometric Association:

Kentucky doctors of optometry are committed to delivering the highest quality eye and vision care to Kentucky citizens.

Doctors of optometry provide two-thirds of all primary eye care in the United States. They are highly qualified, trained doctors on the frontline of eye and vision care who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the eye. In addition to providing eye and vision care, optometrists play a major role in a patient’s overall health and well-being by detecting systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Prior to optometry school, optometrists typically complete four years of undergraduate study, culminating in a bachelor’s degree. Required undergraduate coursework for pre-optometry students is extensive and covers a wide variety of advanced health, science and mathematics. Optometry school consists of four years of post-graduate, doctoral study concentrating on both the eye and systemic health. In addition to their formal training, doctors of optometry must undergo annual continuing education to stay current on the latest standards of care.