There is emerging evidence of the risks that novel coronavirus (COVID-19) poses a risk to eye health care workers and patients, and it is imperative that appropriate infection control measures are implemented.
Novel Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): The importance of recognising possible early ocular manifestation and using protective eyewear (Br J Ophthalmol March 2020 Vol 104 No 3)
"There is now growing evidence that human-to-human transmission is occurring among close contacts, and reports that >1,700 healthcare professionals having been infected with 6 deaths including oneophthalmologist.17–19 Of the affected healthcare workers, one was part of the expert task force who visited Wuhan, and he has reflected on his experience of the disease. Despite being fully gowned with protective suit and N95 respirator, he was still infected by the virus with the first symptom being unilateral conjunctivitis, followed by development of fever a few hours later.13 Since his report, healthcare professionals in China have been urged to use eye protection when they are in close contact with patients."
Full article available at https://bjo.bmj.com/content/bjophthalmol/104/3/297.full.pdf
American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) Coronavirus Information for Ophthalmologists
"The use of commercially available slit-lamp barriers or breath shields is encouraged, as they may provide a measure of added protection against the virus. These barriers do not, however, prevent contamination of equipment and surfaces on the patient's side of the barrier, which may then be touched by staff and other patients and lead to transmission. Homemade barriers may be more difficult to sterilize and could be a source of contamination. In general, barriers are not a substitute for careful cleaning of equipment between patients and asking those patients who cough, sneeze, or have flu-like symptoms to wear masks during examination.
To further decrease the risk of any virus transmission, ophthalmologists should inform their patients that they will speak as little as possible during the slit-lamp examination, and request that the patient also refrain from talking."
Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) Coronavirus Information
Please note the importance of various personal protection strategies as clinicians, including hand washing, eye protection, masks and regularly disinfecting surfaces (including the Slit Lamp Shield) to reduce the risk of infection. It is important all clinicians keep up-to-date with the recommendations and strategies of their clinic or Eye Department, as well as recommendations by their College, University, State and National health authorities and international guidelines. The current COVID-19 global pandemic is rapidly changing, and the advice and recommendations may change as the situation evolves.