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Proximity to customers: Optometrists rank high

New research into occupations that have an increased risk of COVID-19 exposure has shown that eyecare professionals face a higher threat than most other professions.

The UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) created an estimate of exposure to generic disease and physical proximity to other people for UK jobs based on US analysis of these factors.

The analysis, according to Optometry Today, demonstrated that ‘ophthalmic opticians’ were at the higher risk than many other workers, ranking at 17 out of 359 professions for exposure to disease, and ninth for proximity to others.

The report also highlighted that healthcare workers have a particularly high potential risk due to regular exposure to disease and close contact with others. However, it noted “during the pandemic they are more likely to be using personal protective equipment (PPE)”.

“This suggests eyecare professionals may be subject to higher potential risk, with ‘weekly’ exposure to diseases and physical proximity typically between arm’s length and touching distance,” the publication reported.

“However, analysts have also reported that despite the higher potential for exposure, healthcare workers such as doctors and nurses did not have higher rates of COVID-19 deaths compared with the rate among those of the same age and sex in the population as a whole.

“Analysts suggested this could be because healthcare professionals are more likely to be using PPE or may have greater awareness of hygiene measures.”

The ONS also suggested some healthcare workers may have reduced exposure to COVID-19 during lockdown due to a suspension of routine appointments.