Optometrists are open for routine care. Below are the guidelines all optometrists in Manitoba are following during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have any questions, contact your optometrist's office or the Manitoba Association of Optometrists, 204-943-9811.
Council Policy Statement
Practice During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Government and the Provincial Public Health Office, together with health regulatory bodies, hold the formal authority to set the parameters of patient care. Processes and recommended policies during a pandemic may change. Guidelines are subject to change as information evolves. Public Health Orders may be imposed and amended. Members must be vigilant in staying current with health-related updates and government orders.
Effective March 15, 2022, the Manitoba Association of Optometrists adopts the following as a Policy of the Association: The Council Policy Practice During the COVID-19 Pandemic dated December 31, 2021 is hereby replaced.
The following requirements and guidelines are intended to help members create individual clinic policies to continue to provide a safe environment for patients, staff and optometrists.
Optometrists should apply their knowledge, skill, and judgment to reduce risk for everyone present at the clinic.
It is important to remember that vaccinated and asymptomatic individuals can still acquire and transmit the virus.
Efforts should be made to maintain appropriate physical distancing between optometrists, staff, and patients.
A. Precautionary Screening:
Optometrists may continue to screen patients upon entry into the clinic. Current screening recommendations can be found on the Shared Health website (https://sharedhealthmb.ca/covid19/screening-tool/).
Any patient who does not pass screening criteria and has an urgent/emergent eye issue that cannot wait should be directed to the Misericordia Health Centre. There may be separate accommodations made for remote practice settings; in these cases, optometrists should call the on-call ophthalmologist for further guidance.
Optometrists, staff, and patients who do not pass the screening or identify as being symptomatic should be instructed to follow current guidance found on the Shared Health site at https://sharedhealthmb.ca/covid19/screening-tool/. Optometrists and staff should self-screen and follow return-to-work guidance if they test positive for OR develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
B. PPE Required:
Shared Health guidelines continue to require the use of face masks, eye protection and hand hygiene in all health care facilities.
MAO encourages optometrists to make informed decisions on use of PPE for themselves and their staff. Masks are strongly recommended. Goggles are optional. Hand sanitizer continues to be valuable for patients to access when entering and exiting the clinic.
Optometrists should be aware that the requirement for masks will continue in provincial health care facilities after March 15, 2022, including for outpatients, visitors, and health-care workers. PPE recommendations from Shared Health are available at https://sharedhealthmb.ca/covid19/providers/ppe-resources/.
Optometrists should continue to require patients to wear a non-medical or medial mask for the duration of their appointment/service. Clinics should clearly advise patients of mask requirements, including posting the mask requirement on websites, advising patients when appointments are booked, and posting signage at clinic entrances. If desired, Shared Health posters regarding mask requirements can be found at: https://sharedhealthmb.ca/files/mask-requirement-poster.pdf and https://sharedhealthmb.ca/files/covid-19-mandatory-mask-poster.pdf.
If the optometrist or clinic requires patients to wear a mask, the optometrist has the right to determine suitability of the face covering, in order to see the patient.
Optometrists and clinics should have a plan in place to deal with patients who are unable or unwilling to wear a mask.
Hands must be washed or sanitized immediately before and after any patient encounter. Single use latex or nitrile gloves may be used, once only, in a single patient encounter.
Plexiglass/acrylic barriers are optional. They continue to be recommended on professional devices such as slit lamps, phoropters and pupilometers.
Optometrists must continue to follow infection control procedures and disinfect all professional equipment after each patient contact.
Optometrists should continue to follow manufacturers’ recommendations for disinfection/sanitization of specific instruments/equipment.
As they are not easily disinfected, it is recommended that magazines and toys should not be in patient waiting areas at this time.
D. Personal Care Home/Assisted Living/Home Visits:
Members may provide care to patients in personal care homes/assisted living facilities, provided that prior approval has been obtained from the personal care home/assisted living facility and the member follows the protocols established by the facility.
Current State of Emergency and Public Health Orders https://www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/prs/orders/index.html
COVID-19 Information https://manitoba.ca/covid19/index.html
Shared Health COVID-19 Screening Tool
Provincial COVID-19 resources for health-care providers and staff (Shared Health) https://sharedhealthmb.ca/covid19/providers/
Information from Shared Health for primary care clinics and outpatient practices on the easing of restrictions effective March 15, 2022: https://sharedhealthmb.ca/files/covid-19-primary-care-guidance.pdf
Resources for Providers and Clinics – Primary Care (Shared Health) https://sharedhealthmb.ca/covid19/providers/resources-for-providers-and-clinics/