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More Than 95% Of Eyecare Businesses Telling Staff To Wear Masks as They Reopen

Almost 85% are asking patients to as well — and 65% are turning away walk-ins.

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INVISION reopening survey

FACE MASKS, APPOINTMENTS for the optical, protective barriers: Welcome to the new normal. Eyecare businesses are covering all the bases when it comes to protecting themselves and their customers as they reopen, according to the third and latest of INVISION’s COVID-19 Impact Surveys, which polled 119 optical business owners and managers from our Brain Squad. Of the nine precautionary measures we listed, eight had been implemented by more than 50 percent of respondents.

Requiring all staff to wear facemasks was nearly ubiquitous, with 95 percent of businesses doing so, and nearly 85 percent asking customers/patients to do the same. The second most widely adopted protection measure was limiting the amount of people in the store, implemented by 93 percent of respondents.

Some 72 percent of owners said it was now their policy to require appointments of all patients, with 61 percent still requiring appointments even to visit the optical. (Nearly 65 percent of respondents went further and said they were explicitly refusing to allow walk-ins to enter the business.)

About 70 percent of practices are checking customers’/patients’ temperatures prior to admitting entry. Some questioned whether this was worthwhile, however. Jen Heller at Pend Oreille Vision Care in Sandpoint, ID,, said, “Taking temps at the door seems a waste of time and money when up to 50 percent of confirmed cases are asymptomatic. We prefer screening with questions about travel, exposure, and any recent symptoms. Also, we are encouraging patients to keep their masks on when they show up with them, but the masks have to come off at some point anyways because they fog up the phoropters and/or other lenses. So masks are not required on the customer side of things, just on our end.”

Fewer — but a still substantial proportion — of business owners have felt the need to install protective barriers between patients and employees, or wear more extensive forms of PPE (55 and 53 percent respectively).

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Of the protection measures we asked about, the only one cited by less than a quarter of respondents was requiring that patients/customers wear provided gloves (20 percent). A number of owners commented that they felt hand sanitizer was sufficient, and some said they were rapidly learning to minimize customer “touch points” in the store, anyway. Unsurprisingly, many practices commented that they are sanitizing all frames after try-ons.

Eye Center of the Dakotas in Bismarck, ND, reported a somewhat typical mix of precautions. According to Deb Jaeger, “We are allowing walk-ins in optical for adjustments if someone comes to our door and did not realize they needed to call ahead.

They are required to have a mask, complete the COVID questionnaire and get their temp taken at the door. Repairs and other deliveries are done curb-side.”

Ann O’Neill of North Fulton Optical in Roswell, GA, told us she’s “taking every precaution I can.” That includes “disinfecting frames if touched, sneeze guards, including a pupilometer guard ordered from Canada.” Slit-lamp sneeze guards are another piece of exam lane protective equipment that ODs have reported coming in handy.

(Separately, we asked respondents if they were still letting patients use the bathroom. Just on 80 percent said yes.)

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After years covering some of the farther flung corners of the world of business journalism, Heath has more recently focused on covering the efforts of independent eyecare professionals to negotiate a fast-changing industry landscape. Contact him at [email protected]

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