We all want to be safe. There are changes in our office, bookings and procedures to reduce the risk of viral spread. This includes less people in the building, no toys, temperature checks, masks and rapidly altering/triaging appointments.
Unwell on appointment day.
Please phone the office (don’t come in the building). We will arrange another appointment time. The appointment will be triaged so you don’t have to wait months. If you or your child is unwell, it is safer to phone. If you are a possible contact or awaiting a Covid test, please phone so we can arrange an appropriate time.
At present all patients (babies, children and adults) and accompanying persons are tested before the eye consultation. If anyone’s temperature, is elevated you will all be asked to leave the building.
Limited number of persons in the building
The office is a restricted area with a limited number of people in the building to ensure social distancing. Seating is significantly reduced.
Child Patient - may have 2 adults accompanying them (NO extra children)
Adult Patient - may have 1 adult accompanying them (NO extra children)
Unfortunately we do not have toys for the children to play with now. Please consider bringing your own toy (not technology or screens).
Babies and children - Looking at Dr Dunlop’s face is essential when testing babies and children, especially lively or apprehensive patients. At present no mask is preferred.
Adults – At present it is your choice to wear a mask to reduce the risk of viral spread. Masks can fog lenses during vision testing, on the slit-lamp and during machine testing eg visual fields. We respectively may ask you to lower the mask to below your nose (still covering your mouth) at these times.
Hearing impaired - Masks have been difficult for people who have only slight hearing impairment. The staff may need to speak on the phone without a mask at times. Masks made with more transparent lower sections may help for those who lip read. Please let Dr Dunlop know if you require removal of her mask during the discussion period.
Updated Infection Control during COVID times.
At the time of writing (late 2020), transmission is thought to be by aerosol and contact surfaces. We have increased our cleaning protocols and changed procedures to reduce the risk of viral transmission. Our patients are at increased risk (immune suppression, very young, elderly or disabled).
Examples of our changes are discussed below.
We ask you to phone to change your appointment if you are feeling unwell/a contact risk/awaiting COVID test results: Do NOT enter the building. We will triage your appointment. Also we have reduced the number of people in the building: one accompanying adult for each adult patient; two accompanying adults for each child patient. Floor guidance markings are 1m apart. There is reduced seating, spaced apart. Please note the limits on the number of children: NO extra children at appointments.
Cleaning protocols have been increased. We continue to use alcohol wipes for chin and forehead rests on machines. We have reduced patients’ touch points eg no sharing of pens, no touch medicare or credit cards. Temperature testing is no touch. Initial eye pressure testing is by a single use probe eye pressure tonometer.
We have increased phone consultations (telehealth) where appropriate. However we still need to test vision eg for amblyopia (lazy eye) treatment in children. Measurements are required for intraocular/implant lens selection before cataract surgery. For glaucoma assessment, intraocular pressure, angle review, visual fields and OCT reviews are necessary to compare with your previous results. (? stable or deteriorating). This will help your discussion on treatment options and future management to prevent loss of vision.
The Future – the new normal
(even if vaccination is available)
I anticipate public awareness of risky situations will continue. This means we will be careful when unwell and social distance. Covid contact tracing will continue. Testing will be still be triggered by risk.
Unfortunately examination of eyes is a close contact activity. Furthermore our patients are often in a high risk category (immune suppressed, very young, elderly, disabled etc). Telehealth has been a great advance is reducing contact risk, provided it is supported by measurements/examination at other appointments. For the foreseeable future, I think we will have reduced number of patients in our offices. This may mean more triaging of appointment times.
We wish you well in this new normal.
COVID lockdown letters by Dr Catherine Dunlop
Your Verandah is your Friend.
By Dr Catherine Dunlop
Awarded letter of week Newcastle Herald
In 2020, we have a virus which we cannot kill yet. We can avoid transmission by self-isolation. However, some of us will be lonely. Some of us will be glued to the technology screens for work or to reduce boredom. I have written this to help you logically think about simply using your veranda. (hopefully 2m wide with childproof railings)
Your verandah is your friend for surprising reasons:
- Looking into the distance relieves eyestrain
The eyes relax their focussing effort (accommodation) and the eye position is more parallel (less convergence). This advice is important for those using technology eg working at home or watching videos
- Outside light slows the onset of myopia (short-sightedness).
Australian studies of children showed the importance of 2 hours/day (14hrs or more a week) in outside light. This will delay the onset of myopia in young children. Currently myopia is increasing around the world.
Note: this is outside light entering the eyes, not light on the skin.
- Green colour and looking at trees is relaxing.
Note Medicare card is green not red (anger related).
- Sunlight stimulates immunity.
After World War 2, there were not enough antibiotics. Hospitals were built with verandas to help soldiers’ recovery. Concord Repatriation Hospital in Sydney and Royal Newcastle Hospital had wide verandas. Historically British patients with TB were advised to go the warm, sunny south of France, to help fight off their infection (no antibiotics).
Note: this is light on the skin which stimulates vitamin D and immunity
(take care, ? 10 minutes a day)
- Enjoying the company of others at a safe distance
Italian people sing with their neighbours from their balconies.
Please add any more advantages to using your verandah
Don’t be lonely, protect your eyes, and stimulate your immunity – use your verandah!
Restarting our Eye Routines.
By Dr Catherine Dunlop
It’s great. Now we can start to get back into a familiar routine.
Many children are long-sighted and have glasses for school. Now is the time to find them and start using them. Long-sighted eyes need to focus more, to see clearly. Using the glasses will reduce tiring and improve concentration.
Eye drops are used to control eye pressure/glaucoma. Now is the time to phone your chemist. Out of date drops should be replaced. Renew your prescription. Let’s get back into a routine of consistent use. It’s safer for your vision. Glaucoma is a “sneak thief of vision”. Remember to use your drops regularly.
Macular degeneration affects the central reading vision. Are you checking your grid pattern regularly? Time to find that grid pattern. Check each eye at the beginning of the month and during the month. This means you will know your eyes are stable. If there are any new changes, it is important to have a prompt review to protect your vision.
Let’s get back to our familiar eye routines and be eye safe.
By Dr Catherine Dunlop
It’s time to think about keeping well before meeting the virus.
Protect your lungs.
xygen is essential for life. Healthy lungs absorb oxygen from the air. Don’t vape, (I don’t either). If you smoke, think about patches.
Avoid touching your face, eyes or glasses.
The virus enters the body from nose, mouth and lungs and possibly the lining of the eyes (conjunctiva). When you come home from the shops or doctors, wash your hands and glasses with soap and water.
Give up the fad diets.
Oxygen is transported around the body by red blood cells. If you are a little anaemic, you will have a little less oxygen when you need it.
Use your muscles.
Even a little exercise makes you feel good and helps the blood sugar levels. Try some old fashion exercise eg hopscotch for children. For those who are older or need to sit, do you remember semaphore (taught by boy scouts, girl guides)? Different arm positions are represent different letters of the alphabet. This will test your memory, as well as exercise your arms. If you want a cup of tea, you would have to signal letter T E A ie 3 letters. Coffee would be 4 letters. Water 5 letters. (I will get my own breakfast- too many letters)