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COVID-19 clinical guidance for ophthalmologists

28 March 2020

The world is experiencing unprecedented social change as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. How we respond to the challenges we face will have a long-lasting impact on society. Our members have a combined duty to protect our patients, most of whom are elderly, whilst doing our best to preserve their vision. The College believes that this is best achieved by cancelling routine clinical activity, allowing resources available to be used to treat those identified as being at high risk of serious, permanent visual loss.

Protecting Patients Protecting Staff UPDATED 300320 sets out our core principles of organising ophthalmology services during COVID-19.

  • All routine ophthalmic surgery should be postponed in NHS ophthalmology departments, private hospitals and independent treatments centres
  • All face-to-face outpatient activity should be postponed unless patients are at high risk of rapid, significant harm if their appointment is delayed
  • Ophthalmology Accident and Emergency Departments should stay open with consultant level support for both triage decisions and seeing patients
  • Routine diabetic retinopathy screening should be postponed

On this page are relevant sources of ophthalmology specific guidance and national advice from healthcare organisations and government.

Michael Burdon
President, The Royal College of Ophthalmologists



Key clinical management guidance

RCOphth Management of Ophthalmology Services during the Covid pandemic 280320
RCOphth PPE Guidance 270320
Medical Retinal Management Plan during COVID-19 UPDATED 300320
Glaucoma Service Management Plans during COVID-19 270320
Uveitis study group resources
Rheumatology resources
Rheum advice re Immunosuppressed patients (Adults Paediatrics and Young People) v101

Other sources of key clinical management guidance from trusts

Moorfields Risk Stratification for Paediatric Ophthalmology 290320
Moorfields Ophthalmic Risk Stratification & Implementation Guideline V2.0
NNUH VR service guidelines for COVID-19

Managing patients in clinic

Telemedicine Options for Ophthalmology Consultations – COVID19
NNUH use of telemedicine during COVID-19
Haag Streit template – Perspex breathguards for specific makes of slitlamp
Oxford COVID-19 Evidence Service

Guidance for trainees

Training and Exams FAQs
Recognition of Trainee Progression during COVID-19
AoMRC Trainee Doctors’ Group
HEE guidance on training during the pandemic
Fiona Spencer, RCOphth Chair, Training podcast on impact of COVID-19 on trainees
First shift on the covid-19 ward, Kirupakaran Arun ST1 North London shares his story in BMJ

Guidance from UK government, regulatory and education bodies

Government COVID-19 guidance
GMC COVID-19 guidance
GMC Revalidation guidance
PHE guidance

NHS England guidance for clinicians

Wales Advice

Scotland Action Plan

Northern Ireland Advice

Other sources of information

NHS Employers guidance
BMA COVID-19 guidance
BMJ news and resources 
Intensive Care Society guidance
College of Optometrists

Updates on RCOphth Congress, events and exams can be found here

Stay in touch with eye sector charities for further advice

Macular Society