Eye Care During a Pandemic

Eye care during a pandemic may not seem like a top priority. Taking care of our eyes is always important, both for how we see the world and how the world sees us. But, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many of us to skip or delay eye health concerns. By the end of April 2020, less than six weeks after the pandemic was declared in America, visits to eye doctors had already dropped almost 80 percent.

In addition to maintaining good eyesight and detecting eye diseases as early as possible, eye care includes treatment of chronic conditions like diabetic eye disease and macular degeneration. These are two of the leading causes of blindness in the U.S. Not receiving regular care can make these conditions harder to manage and more likely to worsen. Not surprisingly, then, as offices reopen, many people are scheduling eye care exams they missed or delayed.

What can you expect at your next eye care exam?

Many eye doctor offices closed for a long time during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, with most vision care centers open for both routine and urgent eye health matters, you may find that things are a little different than the last time you went.

  • You may need to wait in your car until called for your turn.
  • You may be asked to wear a mask during the whole appointment.
  • The examiner may use a mask, gloves, goggles and plastic shields for extra protection during the exam.
  • You may be asked to not talk until the exam has been completed.

Can COVID-19 affect my eyes?

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), COVID-19 (coronavirus) can spread through the eyes. And, while it doesn’t happen a lot, pink eye may be a symptom of the coronavirus in children. If you’ve had it, you know how easily pink eye can spread. So, it’s really important to wash and sanitize your hands often and don’t share any things you’ve touched with anyone else until the pink eye has gone away.

Vision self-care

Since we’re not supposed to touch our faces much, people who wear contact lenses might want to wear their glasses for a while. Other AAO suggestions include:

  • Stock up on eye-related medications if you are on any. If forced to quarantine, or supplies at the pharmacy become limited, you don’t want to run out and be stuck.
  • Rubbing your eyes is never a good idea. But it’s even more important now to lower your risk of infection if exposed.
  • Even if you work from home or are running a homeschool, try to reduce your screen time and take breaks away from your devices.

Paying for eye care

Does your job provide vision insurance or other benefits you can use? Employees with employer-sponsored accounts like Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), Limited Purpose FSAs, or Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) may already have funds set aside to pay for qualified expenses including vision care. Eligible expenses include eye exams, corrective devices (eyeglasses and contacts), and most other, non-cosmetic eye treatments. You may even have a linked debit card which makes paying for the service both easy and convenient.

Depending on your plan, the funds in your FSA or LPFSA may need to be used by the end of the year, which will be here before you know it. This is a good time to get that eye exam, and maybe a spare pair of lenses too. Check your balances and check with your eye doctor to ensure they accept your benefits.

Eye health is important, even during a pandemic. Your eyes will thank you for it!

Captain Contributor is an award-winning employee education program created by DataPath, Inc.