By Johnna Dukes, ABOC

In the post-COVID era, things are different. How we interact with people is different, how we feel about spending money is different, how we determine what is necessary and what is not, is suddenly very different. These are times of uncertainty and how we proceed to do business and to care for people’s vision now leaves many with questions that only the gift of hindsight will allow us to know if we made the right decisions. What can be done? We can try to be as prepared as possible now in order to resume caring for our patients when we are able to do so.

I own a dispensary in Iowa and while our doctor is not currently seeing routine patients, we are still seeing emergency patients. We are in the office to answer phones, order contacts, and try our best to be in touch with our patients in order to manage our schedule and prepare for when we can safely reopen.  It is a strange time to be in the office as the quiet is deafening, but one of the things I am taking solace in is the fact that we have a rather large job in front of us which will entail preparing our office to once again interact with our patients as safely as possible.

Things Will Be Different

This might be the most obvious statement I’ve ever written, but in these times, we must figure out how to embrace “different.”  Some of the changes we are making have to do with spacing. We have entirely removed our waiting area; we moved one of our employee’s desks away from the front to ensure all our employees are routinely at least 10 feet from each other. We have added phones to ensure all employees have their own phone and only use their own phone.

We are not allowing patients to enter the office without a mask and the door is locked so we can ensure the number of people in the office at any one time. We are asking that everyone call to schedule an appointment before coming in, as we are not taking any walk-ins for any reason. We are asking scheduled appointments not to bring additional people with them unless absolutely necessary. The staff is wearing masks all day and we have face shields for particularly close work.  

Sanitation, while always important, is now paramount. Staff are the only ones allowed to touch the frames and all frames that have been tried on are set aside until they are sanitized. We have increased the time allowed between patients in order to fully sanitize each exam room (we have two) between patients. Hand sanitizer is placed prominently in the office. All surfaces that have been touched (door handles, light switches, credit card terminal, computer keyboards, adjustment tools, dispensing surfaces, and lensometers) are wiped down frequently, ideally after every touch.  And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention ALL the handwashing.

We have added a feature I’m calling “Virtual Glasses Consultations” where the patient can set up an appointment with me to do a one on one consultation via FaceTime or Zoom to determine the type of frames they might be looking for. I’ll evaluate size needs and pick out a few frames for them to take home and try. We will then have another FaceTime call or Zoom meeting in which they show me the frames, and I’ll make sure the fit will work for them and will work with their Rx. This ensures they are still getting the one on one interaction with me, their trusted Optician, and I make sure we are getting a product that will work for them.

What is Right for You?

If these strange times have taught me anything, I will say they have taught me to be more kind and understanding of people’s different viewpoints.  Not everyone will agree with the steps I’ve taken in order to make myself feel OK about preparing to reopen.  And that is alright. I hope in these times, we all can try to do what we can in order to find some solace in this strange new world. We all won’t agree on when, or if to reopen, but some of us don’t have a choice. I hope that what we all can agree on is that what we do is important to the public and that we must do what we can in order to once again take care of people.

For more information on office hygiene, go to our CE, The Hygienic Optician at This course is free, courtesy of a generous educational grant from the McGee Group.