Yogi Berra once said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” That could not be truer given the current state of our nation and world as it faces the COVID-19 pandemic. One thought is that most educational programs in North America (if not elsewhere in most parts of the world) are now being conducted online/virtually. Likewise, many of us are under “shelter-in-place” orders, with restrictions on our daily activities. Along these lines, our children and teens are likely at further risk for increases in myopia progression in unprecedented ways. While myopia management may not be considered essential healthcare, there has never been a better time than now to be implementing and addressing myopia management in your clinical practices.
Jason J. Nichols, OD, MPH, PhD
CDC Answers Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page about COVID-19 on its website. Of specific note to eyecare practitioners are the final two questions under the “How to Protect Yourself” section.
1. Should contact lens wearers take special precautions to prevent COVID-19? The CDC says that currently there is no evidence to suggest that contact lens wearers are more at risk for acquiring COVID-19 than eyeglass wearers. In addition, it states that contact lens wearers should continue to practice safe contact lens wear and care hygiene habits to help prevent against transmission of any contact lens-related infections.
2. Is contact lens disinfecting solution effective against COVID-19? The CDC notes that hydrogen peroxide-based systems for cleaning, disinfecting, and storing contact lenses should be effective against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, it says that there is currently not enough scientific evidence to determine the efficacy against the virus of other disinfection methods, such as multipurpose solution and ultrasonic cleaners.
According to the FDA, this guidance is intended to help facilitate patient care while reducing patient and healthcare provider contact and exposure to COVID-19. In addition, the FDA stated that this policy reflects its commitment to ease burdens on healthcare providers and facilities as they face the COVID-19 public health emergency.
AAO and ASCO Establish Virtual Clinical Training Program
With COVID-19 leaving students unable to see patients in person, the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) is establishing a virtual clinical training program to help the nation’s 1,800 fourth-year prospective Doctors of Optometry accumulate the 350 clinical observation hours that they need to graduate. The Academy and its board members are working with the Associations of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) and with the deans and faculty of optometric schools to develop an online experience that will continue students’ clinical education.
As part of their clinical curriculum, optometry students typically shadow doctors and work with patients in a hospital or clinic to gain first-hand patient experience. But in the current environment, many are unable to satisfy this requirement. The new program, titled the Student Online Clinical Case Education Program (SOCCEP), will immediately provide several weeks of live streamed and/or recorded experiences, each approximately 30 minutes in length. During each session, a faculty or industry presenter will deliver a specific case study. Students will then have an opportunity to ask questions before the session concludes with the lecturer delivering a patient outcome.
While the program was designed to help fourth-year students build clinical hours toward graduation, it is also expected to be utilized as a supplemental and continuing education program for others.
For additional information on the Student Online Clinical Case Education Program, visit www.aaopt.org/soccep.
ABB Optical Group Announces Virtual Resource Center for Eyecare Professionals
As part of ABB Optical Group’s (ABB) continued efforts to assist eyecare professionals (ECPs) during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the company has introduced an online Virtual Resource Center that is available to ABB customers and focuses on helping ECPs with patient outreach, provider education, and practice process and strategy tools.
Programs and resources currently available include a patient outreach toolkit designed for ECPs to connect with patients and inform them of direct practitioner-to-patient shipping options; assistance with setting up an online ordering platform through Yourlens; information on how to set up ABB AutoShip, the company’s contact lens subscription service; a free educational webinar series; ABB Analyze practice performance dashboard software available at no cost; and more. The company plans to add additional tools and resources to the center, such as an upcoming podcast series, best practices, and strategies from key industry leaders and a resource library.
Solutionreach Offers Free Webinar Series
Solutionreach launched a free four-part webinar series titled Practice Comeback Plan. The first session was held on April 9 and covered an overview of the Practice Comeback Plan. Future sessions include the following: April 16, Stage 1: Urgent - “Do This Now”; April 23, Stage 2: Recovery - “Ready to Reopen”; and April 30, Stage 3: Growth - “Thrive Going Forward.” All sessions are held from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET. For more information or to register, visit https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/2156376904025421580.
Optometry’s Meeting 2020 Canceled Due to COVID-19 Pandemic
Out of an abundance of caution amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the American Optometric Association (AOA) has canceled the in-person portion of Optometry’s Meeting 2020. Optometry’s Meeting, the annual meeting of both the AOA and American Optometric Student Association (AOSA), was originally scheduled for June 24-28 in National Harbor, Maryland/Washington, DC. While the in-person schedule of events is canceled, the AOA and AOSA recognize the importance of several key elements of the annual meeting that will be reconfigured, including a virtual experience for members to continue their professional development. Even though details are still in flux, the AOA plans to offer education for practitioners and paraoptometrics using a virtual platform. In addition, AOA will provide additional details on the rescheduling of this year’s AOA House of Delegates at the earliest convenience. And, although the AOA’s annual federal advocacy meeting, AOA on Capitol Hill, is also canceled as part of Optometry’s Meeting 2020, the crisis advocacy mobilization will continue.
Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann Partners with Physicians and Scientists to Launch How We Feel App
Physicians and researchers from leading academic institutions and a volunteer team from Pinterest, Inc. announced the How We Feel Project (HWF), a nonprofit health research consortium whose mission is to make the world healthier by connecting citizens with the global health community.
The organization’s first product is a mobile app called How We Feel. The app prompts people—healthy or not—to share how they’re feeling, their age, and their ZIP Code. If people are not feeling well, they can also share their symptoms and health conditions. Daily health “check-ins” take about 30 seconds. The How We Feel app is available for download today in the United States on iOS and Android and via the web at http://www.howwefeel.org.
How We Feel does not ask users to create an account and doesn’t ask for a name, phone number, or email address. The aggregated information will be shared with select scientists, public health professionals, and physicians who need more data to continue fighting the spread of COVID-19.
Collaborators on HWF include quantitative scientists and public health and biomedical researchers from Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Weizmann Institute of Science, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Weill Cornell Medicine, and a volunteer team of current and former Pinterest employees, including Mr. Silbermann.
For each download of the app and first completed health check-in, Mr. Silbermann and his wife, Divya Silbermann, will donate a meal to a family in need through Feeding America. The couple has pledged to donate up to 10 million meals.
For the most up-to-date COVID-19 news and tips for eyecare providers, visit bit.ly/2WxiFbA.
And, you can now sign up to receive the weekly PentaVision COVID-19 News Roundup newsletter, a joint publication from Contact Lens Spectrum, Eyecare Business, and Optometric Management.
The International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE) announced the winners of the its 2020 awards, who will each receive a bursary of up to $3,000 toward the cost of attending a major international meeting where they will receive their certificates; the meetings they will attend will be confirmed once COVID-19 restrictions allow.
The IACLE Contact Lens Educators of the Year awards recognize and reward achievements in contact lens education worldwide. Sponsored by CooperVision, and supported by the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), these awards are presented each year to an individual from each of IACLE’s global regions. The 2020 winners are: IACLE Americas Contact Lens Educator of the Year–Professor Renée Reeder, University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Optometry, United States; IACLE Asia Pacific Contact Lens Educator of the Year–Professor Bariah Mohd Ali, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and IACLE Europe/Africa – Middle East Contact Lens Educator of the Year–Jo Underwood, Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) College, Godmersham, United Kingdom.
The IACLE Travel Awards enable IACLE members to travel to international contact lens meetings and are funded by all the Industry Sponsors of IACLE (Alcon, CooperVision, Johnson & Johnson Vision, Bausch + Lomb, and Euclid). These awards are also supported by the Association of Optometric Contact Lens Educators (AOCLE) and by the AAO. The 2020 recipients are: Dr Elizabeth Chetty , University of Johannesburg, South Africa, who will attend the 2021 AOCLE Annual Workshop; Professor Martín Guzmán, Universidad Nacional Experimental Romulo Gallegos, Zaraza, Venezuela; and Associate Professor Nirav Mehta, Hari Jyot College of Optometry, Navsari, India.
No-Fee CE Opportunities
Contact Lens Spectrum offers a variety of no-fee continuing education courses to keep eyecare professionals up to date on the latest in contact lens research and technology. The current courses, “Taking the Mystery Out of Scleral Lenses Patient Selection, Instrumentation, Fitting Techniques, and Follow-Up” and “When and How to Use Special Scleral Lens Design Options,” are available for NCLE and COPE credit at clspectrumce.com. Contact Lens Spectrum will be releasing two additional courses in July and October 2020 to complete this scleral lens continuing education series.
Your Interesting Case Photo Here in the Next Issue
Have you seen an interesting case lately? Would you like to share it with your colleagues? An image from that case could appear in Contact Lenses Today in the coming weeks!
We welcome photo submissions from our readers! It is easy to submit a photo for consideration for publishing in Contact Lenses Today. Simply visit http://www.cltoday.com/upload/upload.aspx to upload your image. Please include a detailed explanation of the photo and your full name, degree or title, and city/state/country.
SPECIALTY LENS SPACE
Karen DeLoss, OD
At this point, most of us are at home in self quarantine or gearing up. Most are confined to our homes. This time has provided me an opportunity to ponder what is essential with respect to ourselves, our role in the healthcare systems, and our patients.
At our institution, we have scaled down to “skeleton” clinics based on specialty. Our ophthalmologists will likely be redeployed to the main hospital to help provide backup care to our physicians who would normally see patients who are in the hospital. That said, optometry has become essential for all urgent care patients.
The hard part is how do we define what is essential and urgent for our medically necessary contact lens patients? Many of these patients cannot function without our services. We are doing our best to keep up with calls to replace broken lenses. We have also developed information on care and cleaning of specialty lenses based on American Academy of Optometry and American Optometric Association recommendations as well as recommendations from other organizations. The laboratories that manufacture specialty lenses have been incredibly helpful, and most have sent out information on warranty extensions and their availability. The labs are certainly essential!
I have heard from many of you, and I too am struggling as to what to do for our patients who would benefit from a specialty GP lens or a scleral lens. I was recently referred a monocular patient who has severe sight-threatening ocular surface issues who certainly needs a scleral lens. Even if we all take the appropriate precautions, do I go into the office to fit her and risk having her exposed? Do I risk using up vital personal protective equipment (PPE)? Do I send her for a tarsorrhaphy for now? What is essential? Difficult times, difficult decisions.
MATERIALS & DESIGNS
David L. Kading, OD
When You Are Out, You’re Out (or Are You?)
When you are a loser, are you always a loser? When you are a failure, do you always fail? If you’re a dropout, are you always a dropout?
Contact lenses are fantastic, and we love them. Young patients often tell me that they’ve been saving up their allowance to buy their first contact lenses. They want them and love them, until they don’t.
We all encounter patients who have stopped wearing their lenses. Many of them want to wear lenses again but don’t think that a better option is available to them. One study reported that 77% of discontinued contact lens wearers were successfully refit, most of them into daily disposable lenses.1 If 10% to 20% of your patients are dropping out of their lenses, and if 77% of them can be refit, wouldn’t it be ideal to bring the subject up to them again? Share with them that you don’t see them as a forever contact lens failure.
1. Young G, Veys J, Pritchard N. Coleman S. A multi-centre study of lapsed contact lens wearers. Opthalmic Physiol Opt. 2002 Nov;22:516-527.
The COVID-19 Pandemic: Important Considerations for Contact Lens Practitioners
A novel coronavirus (CoV), the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus - 2 (SARS-CoV-2), results in the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). As information concerning the COVID-19 disease continues to evolve, patients look to their eyecare practitioners for accurate eye health guidance. There is currently no evidence to suggest an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 through contact lens (CL) wear compared to spectacle lens wear and no scientific evidence that wearing standard prescription spectacles provides protection against COVID-19 or other viral transmissions.
During the pandemic, there will potentially be significant changes in access to local eye care. Thus, it is imperative that CL wearers are reminded of the steps they should follow to minimize their risk of complications to reduce their need to leave isolation and seek care. Management of adverse events should be retained within eyecare systems if possible to minimize the impact on the wider healthcare service, which will be stretched. Optimal CL care behaviors should be the same as those under normal circumstances, which include appropriate hand washing (thoroughly with soap and water) and drying (with paper towels) before both CL application and removal. Daily CL cleaning and correct case care for reusable CLs should be followed according to appropriate guidelines, and CL exposure to water must be avoided. Where the availability of local clinical care is restricted, practitioners could consider advising patients to reduce or eliminate sleeping in their CLs (where patients have the appropriate knowledge about correct daily care and access to suitable lens care products) or consider the option of moving patients to daily disposable lenses (where patients have appropriate lens supplies available). Patients should also avoid touching their face—including their eyes, nose, and mouth—with unwashed hands and avoid CL wear altogether if unwell (particularly with any cold or flu-like symptoms).