Simon Jones: Waiting game
Author: Simon Jones
Research carried out by dentist chain Portman Dental Care has highlighted worrying levels of ‘DIY dentistry’ during lockdown. The findings revealed that people in the UK had gone as far as bursting abscesses, pulling out loose teeth, cementing their own crowns and filling teeth with superglue and baking powder, while dental practices in England and Scotland have been closed.
Mercifully, that optical practices have been on hand to deal with eye health emergencies during lockdown has meant any potential DIY eye care has been one less problem to worry about. But the public’s reluctance to visit A&E and GP surgeries for urgent care through fear of contracting Covid-19 means there could be a problem looming large in the form of undiagnosed eye conditions that people have simply ‘put up with.’ How many patients have you seen in the past for routine eye tests have nursed some sort of visual decline for weeks and months?
A return to routine eye testing in the UK is desperately needed, providing safety measures are in place, so this week’s news that optometrists in Ireland are able to return to a semblance of normal work should be gratefully received. How practices adapt to their new parameters will be watched with great interest by colleagues in the UK.
With nothing set in stone for when our own sector might start on the road back to normality, there’s a real risk that patients’ sight is being put at risk through missing out on vital management of long-term conditions – diabetic retinopathy screening programmes, for example.