Coronavirus has caused many eye clinic appointments to be delayed since March 2020.
This will no doubt cause concern for many glaucoma patients whose appointments have been cancelled. Routine clinic appointments and surgery are just starting to be resumed now. Unfortunately, in order to provide a safe environment for those routine clinics it is necessary to reduce the number of appointments for each clinic. This will enable the clinic staff to have time to do the appropriate infection control cleaning between patients and also to enable social distancing to be observed due to less people in the waiting area at any time.
It is likely therefore that many people with glaucoma will have further delays in their appointments. The length of delay will depend on the hospital you attend, the severity and stability of your eye condition. Patient records are checked by a consultant (this is known as triaging) and those patients that are most in need of an appointment will be prioritised.
Glaucoma is a group of conditions that result in damage to the optic nerve. The majority of cases are chronic glaucoma that is very slowly progressing and if you have been told previously that your condition is stable it is very unlikely that this delay in your appointment will cause a serious change in your vision. If you have previously been told that your condition is not stable but you haven’t been contacted by the hospital regarding your next appointment we suggest that you call or email your consultant’s medical secretary or the Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) at your hospital to ask what the arrangements are for you.
In England routine eye examinations are now available and in the rest of the UK there is emergency eye care available at some local opticians. If you are worried about your eyes or your eye pressure, or just want reassurance but don’t yet have a hospital appointment you can contact your local opticians to ask for advice and support.
In all routine eye examinations for people with glaucoma the eye pressure and visual fields will be measured, and many optometrists will also image the optic nerve. This means that a routine eye examination will help to detect any change that needs the attention of your consultant. You can request an NHS eye examination if you have noticed a change in your vision but if you were seen within the last year and have no symptoms there may be a charge for the appointment. It is a good idea to check whether the NHS will cover your appointment. When you go to the opticians make sure you take with you any letters or reports from your consultant and the name of any medications you are using.