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Assoc. Prof. Simon Skalicky
March 2020

Dear Glaucoma Australia community,
It has been an extraordinary time for all Australians over the last few weeks, and many of us are experiencing strain or hardship in different ways.

Woman wearing a face mask

Through these difficulties I am touched and inspired by the strength and resilience of the people I see – my patients, their families, my colleagues, practice staff and the Glaucoma Australia team. I thank everyone for their positivity, good humour and support for one another.

It is important to remember that in times like these to remain calm, confident in the future, and resolve that together as a community we can rise to meet our challenges. Being kind, considerate to one another, and to comply with the instructions from the relevant authorities, is the key to success in this COVID crisis. We each have a part to play – if we do the right things today, we will save lives tomorrow.

Washing hands, keeping a social distance, and avoiding unnecessary crowds is important, and if you have cold or flu symptoms, please do not go to work, and consider seeing your local doctor. If you have been asked to self-isolate, please comply with this.

Glaucoma Australia has managed to keep operating during this period, with much of our work being done remotely from our staffs’ homes. I want to sincerely thank our staff and volunteers for their amazing dedication and willingness to adapt in these challenging circumstances. I am proud of you all.

Please remember:

  • Regular appointments with your ophthalmologist or optometrist are important for protecting your vision against glaucoma. Your health care provider will advise you if any change to your appointment schedule is required. If you have any concerns or questions please contact your health care provider to discuss the suitability of your appointment.
  • The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmology encourages routine eye health appointments to continue. They recommend screening of staff and patients: those with cold/flu symptoms, contacts with COVID and recent overseas travel should not attend a clinic.
  • While there has been conflicting advice about what constitutes ‘essential services’, the Federal Health Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt, has confirmed that optometry practices can currently remain open (if they wish). Although we recognise that some practices, and some optometrists, may choose not to continue to provide optometric care at this time. Please call your local optometrist to see if they are open and what services they are currently providing if needed.
  • If you have recently returned from overseas or have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 you should self-isolate for 14 days.
  • If you have flu-like symptoms you should wait until you’re well before making an appointment.
  • It is best to wait until you are well to see your health practitioner, but if it is an emergency or if you are unsure your practitioner can advise you by phone.
  • If you have to self-isolate be sure to continue on your glaucoma management plan, if you need your prescription renewed you should contact your pharmacist by phone.
  • To ensure there are enough medicine supplies for everyone, pharmacists will limit dispensing of glaucoma eye-drop medicines to a one-month supply at the prescribed dose.
  • Consider if there is a way to make fewer visits to renew your prescription to limit the risk of infection. Some practices are offering tele-health consultations (via phone or video link) to renew medication prescriptions.

Obviously matters are evolving rapidly, and we will keep everyone updated if there is a change in health policy for glaucoma management.

If you have any questions, please reach out to us via email at glaucoma@glaucoma.org.au or phone us on 1800 500 880

Yours Sincerely,

Associate Professor Simon Skalicky
President, Glaucoma Australia

Article by Associate Professor Simon Skalicky
FRANZCO, MPhil, MMed (Ophthal Sci), MBBS (Hons1), PhD A/Prof Simon Skalicky is a Specialist Ophthalmologist and Principal Associate at Eye Surgery Associates, with subspecialty skills in glaucoma and cataract surgery.