Ignoring sudden changes in your eyesight or failing to manage a chronic eye condition can result in a permanent loss of vision, warned Eric Postel, MD, a retinal surgeon at Duke Eye Center in Durham and South Durham. Although visiting your eye doctor during the coronavirus pandemic might make you nervous, putting off necessary care can have serious consequences. At Duke Health, we are taking every precaution to ensure that receiving and providing essential medical care is safe for everyone.
Depending on your condition, you may able to receive care without leaving home. Duke Eye Center clinics across the Triangle are using telehealth to diagnose external conditions like sties, manage medications, and review test results, said Dr. Postel. These virtual visits, which use a computer or mobile device with a camera, are an effective way for you to get safe medical care. Call your doctor’s office or use Duke MyChart to send a message using the “Ask a Question” link. Your doctor will assess your health concern to determine if telehealth will work for you or if an in-person visit is needed.
System-Wide Safety Precautions
If an office visit is necessary, you can feel secure knowing that the safety of patients and staff is our top priority. All Duke Health facilities are required to adhere to strict safety standards, including:
- Conducting health screenings of everyone who enters clinics and hospitals
- Requiring everyone to wear a face mask at all times
- Cleaning exam rooms and equipment with CDC-approved products between every patient
- Rearranging waiting rooms and other spaces to allow for physical distancing
Safety at the Eye Center
To keep patients and staff safe, our eye centers are changing the way appointments are structured. Dr. Postel explained, “When it’s practical, people can wait in their cars between different phases of their exam, and checkout occurs as they leave the exam room, instead of in a more crowded central location.”
In addition to wearing required facemasks, our ophthalmologists and technicians wear full face shields and have installed plastic shields on exam equipment. The shields create an extra barrier to protect the eyes, nose, and mouth, which can be entry points for the coronavirus.
Taking Care of You
“We are taking care of people in spite of COVID,” said Dr. Postel. “The measures we have put in place -- including very strict handwashing, reconfiguring spaces to allow social distancing, screening everyone who enters the facility, and cleaning equipment and rooms between every patient -- make people feel comfortable.”