Although optometrists and other healthcare professionals have long been familiar with and trained in the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), COVID-19’s continued threat is changing how optometrists and their staff use these items—and may have many asking the same of their patients.

A European social media-based survey is showing that, perhaps unsurprisingly, eye care offices plan to employ higher standards of PPE. These standards will include not only staff wearing face masks and disinfecting their hands, but also requesting that patients do so as well.

The survey polled 257 optometrists and opticians in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The research found that 75% of respondents planned on wearing masks during refractions and 69% when fitting contact lens. More than half of the doctors polled—62%—said they expect patients to wear masks in these tasks as well. This number is higher than for tasks such as fitting frames that don’t require such close proximity. Most physicians, 90% in this survey, would, in addition to hand washing, disinfect their hands, and approximately 80% expect their patients to do so too. Less than a third said they’d wear safety spectacles, gloves or protective facial shields. In addition, 73% planned on disinfecting frames after customers try them on.

Pult H. COVID-19 pandemic: survey of future use of personal protective equipment in optometric practice. Contact Lens & Anterior Eye. April 21, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].