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Don’t Let COVID-19 Fears Affect Your Eye Health

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Chuck Dean is one of the nearly 76,000 patients seen in the last year by UAB Callahan Eye Hospital & Clinics. He needs regular eye exams, but like many patients, Dean has concerns about seeking medical and vision care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am a diabetic and 67 years old,” Dean says. “Coming to a medical facility concerns me right now. I think of the word ‘medical’, and I think of ‘sick.’”

Nationally, some people are avoiding hospitals and clinics because they fear COVID-19 or believe medical staff are too busy to treat people with other conditions.

“As an eye care facility, we don’t treat symptomatic, known COVID-19 patients,” says Virginia Lolley, MD, assistant professor and chief of staff for UAB Callahan Eye Hospital & Clinics. “We screen all patients and visitors, and there is little to no risk for someone coming in for eye care. No one should put off any vision services. Your risk of contracting an illness at Callahan is minimal, but your risk of severe vision loss or blindness from untreated diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma is significant.”

Patients with conditions known to affect vision are urged to continue their regular checkups.

“While COVID-19 continues to be a severe public health emergency, vision plays a vital role in our lives and a tremendous part in nearly every daily function,” says Carson Bee, MD, assistant professor and medical director of UAB Callahan Eye Hospital & Clinics. “For patients with vision-threatening conditions that require follow-up and monitoring – such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration – it is important that they keep up with their regular eye exams to prevent vision loss and blindness.”

Cleanings, Screenings, and Safety

UAB Callahan Eye Hospital & Clinics continues to take numerous steps in our facility to maintain a safe environment for patient care. High-touch areas such as door handles and elevator buttons are frequently sanitized throughout the day. We are performing patient temperature and symptom screenings, spacing out appointments, putting distance between chairs in the waiting areas, and thoroughly disinfecting exam rooms after each patient. You may see your doctor wiping down exam chairs. In short, our entire team is committed to your safety.

“Timely treatment could mean the difference between permanent vision loss and blindness or complete preservation of vision,” says Hogan Knox, MD, assistant professor with UAB Ophthalmology. “For vision emergencies, the UAB Callahan Emergency Room is open 24 hours a day.”

“The fear of contracting COVID-19 is very real among our parent population,” says Krupa Patel, MD, assistant professor with UAB Ophthalmology’s Division of Pediatrics. “All of our exams at our satellite clinics, including children’s exams, are being performed to practice safe distancing guidelines, expedite visits, and keep the volume in waiting areas to a minimum.”

As people move back into the workplace and society adapts to COVID-19, UAB Callahan Eye Hospital & Clinics encourages patients to make eye care a priority. After finding out more about the precautions being taken at our facilities, Dean changed his outlook on eye care, and recently he visited our downtown location several times to prepare for an upcoming surgery.

“I take care of my grandson during the day, and I realized that my vision was just too important to put off,” Dean says. “I have the opportunity to watch him grow up, and I don’t want to miss out on that. I felt much safer after I arrived at the UAB Callahan Eye Hospital Clinic, once I witnessed the social distancing and safety precautions taken. I immediately felt at ease.”

If you need vision care, please call or text 844-UAB-EYES or click here to schedule an appointment.