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Optometrists limited to urgent cases; telehealth update

Optometry Australia (OA) is seeking to clarify the extent to which optometrists are allowed to practice after it was suggested eyecare professionals should only limit themselves to urgent cases during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The association is also set to release advice on how optometrists can expand their telehealth services after Federal Government indicated it would allow allied health professionals to offer telehealth appointments under Medicare by Monday 30 March.

On Thursday, OA posted on its website that during a Commonwealth Department of Health webinar for primary and allied health professionals departmental officials indicated optometrists should now be exercising discretion and limiting themselves to seeing urgent cases.

According to the government, this measure would limit risk of infection during the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent health professionals and patients from being unnecessarily exposed to potential infection.

“We are seeking clarity from the department and will update you further,” the OA post said.

OA revealed it is also developing advice in relation to what optometric care should be considered essential in the event of further shutdowns.

It has been working with RANZCO over collaborative approaches to ensure patients can continue to access emergency and time-sensitive care now and for the foreseeable future.

“One element of this will be offering tele-optometry services and increasingly supporting patients to access tele-ophthalmology services,” OA stated.

“Next week we will be releasing resources to help support you to prepare to offer more telehealth services next week, and encourage you to attend our short webcast on telehealth at 2pm AEDT next Thursday 2 April.”

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