By Maryann Santos, Program Director, Vision Care Technology, Goodwin College

I am not a germ freak...well, I could go down that road, but that is not the reason for addressing the important topic of infection control and hygiene in the optical dispensary. This topic was brought to my attention by one of our soon to be graduating Vision Care Technology students. This student has an extensive background in healthcare and is cognizant of the importance and necessity of handwashing and practicing hygiene. After observing interactions in dispensaries over the years, she noticed that the opticians would go from patient to patient without ever washing their hands. Is that what is done in your office? Hand washing is an effective and easy way to reduce the spread of germs and should be done before and after touching a patient. This is even more important now that flu season is here.

It’s Time to Break Out the Hand Sanitizer

Does your optical dispensary practice infection control? If not, it should, as opticians come into physical contact with patients on a daily basis. We lift up the hair and fold over the ear of a patient to check the temple bend. Some might even admit that they will change nose pads for one patient, and then dispense a new pair of eyewear to another. Best practice would be to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer between patients.

The Pupilometer

When was the last time you cleaned your pupilometer? Appropriate care would be to take an alcohol pad and clean the nose pads and forehead bar of the pupilometer before measuring the pupillary distance for every patient. Some opticians have confided that they have never cleaned the pupilometer but now will after recognizing this lapse in proper standard of care. They sell small acrylic alcohol pad holders that can be readily available on the dispensary desk.

Office Manual

All offices should have an office manual of policies and procedures. This also applies to the small one-location, Mom & Pop type shops. It is crucial to include a section on infection control. What are your dispensary hygiene policies? Do you have policies in place that address the use of hand sanitizer, hand washing, and cleaning of instruments? If you do not have a policies and procedures manual, now may be the time to consider one. You already have a section that needs to be included: infection control and hygiene. Patients notice and appreciate offices that take infection control and hygiene seriously.