Well, folks, we are almost all back to work by the time this prints. I think you will agree that the transition into the nouveau optometric practice has been a little smoother than we thought it would be. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I, too, had to convince myself that I was unlikely to catch a potentially deadly disease while refracting a 10-year-old who was messing with his mask, but, day by day, it has become easier for me to ease into this new world. 

But a lot has changed, and some of it has been surprising. For example, we hardly have any no-shows now. Oh, 20-something males still never show up, but that’s expected. Everyone else is showing up. I have mixed emotions about that trend, since 83.4% of my humor is related to griping about no-shows in this column. Still, if almost every one of my usual no-shows actually show up, all things considered, it’s a good thing, right?

Coverup Considerations

You will agree that the personal protective equipment (PPE) has taken some time to get used to. I’m learning what works for me, and I would like to share with you some practical PPE and other hygienic wisdom I have gained: 

  1. Do not put the mask on immediately after eating cheese. Trust me. 
  2. To avoid fogging up your glasses just as you are picking rust out of someone’s cornea with a needle, go back to wearing your multifocal contact lenses, whether you can see with them or not. 
  3. If you have a reusable cloth mask, wash it, for goodness’s sake! If you are wearing a disposable paper surgical mask, uh, dispose of it before the inside looks like a three-year-old’s pull up. 
  4. Use a mask that’s tight enough for a decent seal but not so tight that you look like Jeff Sessions. 
  5. Remember, your patient cannot tell you if are smiling, so clap or something. Also, laughing behind the mask must be handled delicately or they may think you are hacking your lungs out. 
  6. Do not automatically shake hands with someone who sticks his out to you. Me? I give the foot bump. Patients seem to think it is funny and laugh… or maybe they are hacking their lungs out. 
  7. When you wash your hands, make sure you do it in front of the patient—and be sure it’s for 20 seconds. I’ve gotten called out on skipping a few seconds more than once by the hand-washing police. 
  8. Always remember that your patients are pretty freaked out these days. Maybe their first bifocal can wait a couple more months, unless, you have a licensed grief counselor on staff. 
  9. Your mask should not look like a skeleton’s grin. Stick with puppies or Mick Jagger’s lips or something. 
  10. People ask me, ”What about wearing gloves?” Well, gloves are probably less sanitary than your carefully washed hands (see #7), but patients who come in with things stuck in their eyes that have to be removed by your filthy hands actually may like to see you in gloves. 
  11. Speaking of gloves, please (a) buy decent quality gloves so they don’t split like a jilted boyfriend and (b) practice putting them on and off so you don’t look like a dork. Being an optometrist is dorky enough. 

I am keeping track of all things related to reopening in the COVID era. You can be sure that once patients start no-showing again, I will get back to being funny.