COVID-19 Guidance for Ophthalmologists (AAO, 2020)

American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO)

This is a quick summary of the guidelines without analysis or commentary. For more information, go directly to the guidelines by clicking the link in the reference.

March 24, 2020

Recommendations for urgent and nonurgent patient care in ophthalmology were published in 2020 by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).[1,2]

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all ophthalmologists should immediately cease providing any treatment other than urgent or emergent care.

Several reports suggest COVID-19 can cause conjunctivitis and possibly be transmitted by aerosol contact with conjunctiva.

Patients with conjunctivitis frequently present to eye clinics or emergency departments and therefore ophthalmologists may be the first clinicians to examine patients who could have COVID-19.

Prior to examination, ophthalmologists should ask patients if they have a fever or respiratory symptoms, and if they or their family members have traveled recently.

Ophthalmologists must take necessary safety precautions while caring for patients who may have COVID-19. This includes wearing protection for the mouth, nose, and eyes, using slit-lamp barriers or breath shields, and continuing to use the same disinfection practices already used to prevent office-based spread of viral pathogens.

Ophthalmologists should use disposable tonometer tips when checking intraocular pressure, because the virus has been found in the tears of some patients who have conjunctivitis.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology has no opinion on the systemic safety or efficacy of COVID-19 treatments currently under investigation.

For more Clinical Practice Guidelines, go to Guidelines.

For more information, go to Viral Conjunctivitis.


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