By Dorothy L. Hitchmoth, OD, FAAO; Richard Hom, PhD, OD; Gregory Moore, OD, FAAO; Jessica Eid, OD
The year “20/20” was supposed to be optometry’s year to educate the public on the importance of eye care. Our message was to be dispersed toward the objective of preventing vision loss and preserving the quality of life of patients. This mission is very important, but our call to duty certainly took a different turn as the COVID-19 global pandemic permeated our existence and took the lives of thousands of the most vulnerable in society. Doctors of optometry across the country immediately took action on the health care frontline by diverting ocular triage from emergency rooms, keeping in touch with critical patient needs through telehealth and supporting respective local communities and businesses in countless ways.
Doctors of optometry are 42,546 strong and are embedded in most communities across the country to include the inner cities and rural outer banks.1 We deliver first-line care to almost 200 million people in the U.S. each year, making us well-positioned to support the pandemic through its end. We can impact the massive vaccination effort positively, and all hands must be on deck to make this happen.
Given this charge, we hope to provide the best resources and references so that doctors of optometry can support our nation and the world’s objectives toward battling COVID-19 and the potentially deadly effect of SARS-COV-2 by doing the following and making sure you use the best references.
1. Become a beacon of accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccination, its efficacy and side effects.
a. Kaur, S. P., & Gupta, V. (2020). COVID-19 Vaccine: A comprehensive status report. Virus research, 198114.
b. Moderna press release Phase 3 results. Published results to follow.
c. Pfizer announces in a press release Phase 3 results. Published results to follow.
d. Astra Zeneca announces in a press release Phase 3 results. Published results to follow.
e. Johnson & Johnson announces in press release early Phase 3 results. Published results to follow.
2. Sharpen your knowledge of the FDA processes required to approve a vaccination.
3. Work with your state professional society to ensure state officials at the highest level of government know that you are available to administer vaccinations, COVID-19 testing and/or support hospital and field logistics for getting the vaccines to those who need it most.
4. Remain a trusted resource for CDC recommendation regarding safe health care operations as we move forward.
a. Optometry has taken the lead in developing safe practice standards. In November 2020, the International Academy of Safe Practice Standards (IASPS) was borne out of an optometry-led initiative to help practicing clinicians keep up with the ever-changing information that research brings on how to battle SARS-COV-2 and COVID-19. The IASPS is comprised of a select group of interdisciplinary clinicians who have extensive training and experience in infectious disease, research, clinical practice and industry relations. They offer nonhospital based practices in all specialties recommendations to improve their safe practice protocols.2
Now is the time to remember the oath we took as the doctoral hood crossed our faces, which in part reads: I WILL do my utmost to serve my community, my country and humankind as a citizen as well as an optometrist.3
About the Authors:
|Dr. Dorothy L. Hitchmoth: Dr. Hitchmoth is a nationally recognized doctor, award winning educator, and health data analyst with broad experience in the ophthalmic market. She is a residency trained OD and a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and the Optometric Retina society and is a past American Optometric Association state affiliate president. She spent 22 years as a residency director and service chief at the VA and is currently owner and CEO of rural private practice and consulting business. Her publications are countless and her practice mission is prevention of vision loss. www.drdorothy.org|
|Dr. Jessica Eid: Dr. Jessica Eid graduated from the University of Houston College of Optometry. She completed her residency in Ocular Disease and Ocular and Refractive Surgery at the Oklahoma Medical Eye Group and nJoy Vision in Tulsa, OK. She currently practices at North Country Eye Care in West Lebanon, New Hampshire.|
|Dr. Gregory Moore: Dr Moore owned and operated Refractive Surgery and Cataract Referral Centers with offices in West Virginia and Kentucky. He has served on multiple industry thought leaders/speakers panels and has provided CE in 36 states and on 4 different continents. He was a founding faculty member of the Kentucky College of Optometry and served as the Associate Dean of Clinics for the Niswonger College of Optometry. He is a co-founder of the International Academy of Safe Practice Standards.|
|Dr. Richard Hom: Dr. Hom currently serves as the Optometric Director, Anthem Inc. He has more than 20 years of experience in designing infection prevention training and compliance programs. In addition to his OD, Dr. Hom has an MPA and PhD. He is also an Adjunct Associate Professor of Optometry at the New England College of Optometry and co-f0under of the International Academy of Safe Practice Standards. Email [email protected] | https://homandmoore.com|
Read here about the letter from the American Optometric Association president to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.