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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’ 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 FINAL
RCOphth PPE Guidance 27 March 2020
Medical Retinal Management Plan during COVID-19 270320
Glaucoma Service Plans during COVID-19 270320
NNUH VR service guidelines for COVID-19
Rheumatology resources

Managing patients in clinic 

Telemedicine Options for Ophthalmology Consultations – COVID19
NNUH using telemedicine during COVID-19 to reduce face to face contact
Haag Streit template – Perspex breathguards for specific makes of slitlamp
Oxford COVID-19 Evidence Service COVID-CAT PPE 20 March

Other sources of key clinical management guidance

Ophthalmic Risk Stratification 25 March
Moorfields Ophthalmic Risk Stratification & Implementation Guideline V2.0
Moorfields Paediatric Ophthalmology Coronavirus guidelines
Intensive Care Society (wellbeing leaflets)

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

Guidance from UK government, regulatory and education bodies

Gov.uk Advice
GMC Guidance
PHE guidance
NHS England Advice for Clinicians
GMC Guidance
GMC revalidation information

Wales Advice

Scotland Action Plan

Northern Ireland Advice

Other sources of information

NHS Employers guidance
BMA COVID-19 guidance
BMJ News and Resources 


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