COVID Update



COVID Update -

Good news - no masks unless you wish to wear a mask


2023 - We are likely to see conjunctivitis as a new symptom associated with fever/muscle aches/fatigue.

Please phone for a new appointment if you or your child has these symptoms. 

Eye measurements are more accurate if the patient is well.

Dilating drops help accurately measure and check inside children's eyes (not used if sick)


We all want to be safe. There are changes in our office, bookings and procedures to reduce the risk of viral spread. This includes less people in the building, and rapidly altering/triaging appointments. Temperature checks for children before school age, are to help reduce the risk of other illnesses being transmitted in the office.  

Unwell on appointment day.

Please phone the office (don’t come in the building). We will arrange another appointment time. The appointment will be triaged so you don’t have to wait months. If you or your child is unwell, it is safer to phone. If you have a positive RAT test, a close contact or awaiting a Covid PCR test, please phone so we can arrange an appropriate time. NB Diarrhoea may be a symptom of delta variant of Covid in children.

Temperature checks.

At present babies and children not at school, are tested before the eye consultation. It is unwise to use dilating drops in sick or feverish children. Also the temperature checks may reduce the risk of other illnesses being transmitted in the office. 


Limited number of persons in the building

Child Patient - may have 2 adults accompanying them (NO extra children)

Adult Patient - may have 1 adult accompanying them (NO extra children)

Toys - We have some toys for the children to play with. However you may consider bringing your own toy (not technology or screens).


Masks - no masks unless you wish to wear a mask

Adults – Masks can fog lenses during vision testing, on the slit-lamp and during machine testing eg visual fields. We respectively may ask you to lower the mask to below your nose (still covering your mouth) at these times.

Hearing impaired - Masks have been difficult for people who have only slight hearing impairment. 


Updated Infection Control during COVID times.

Viral transmission is primarily by aerosol and also contact surfaces. Limiting the number of people in the building reduces risk. We have increased our cleaning protocols and changed procedures to reduce the risk of viral transmission. Our patients are at increased risk (immune suppression, very young, elderly or disabled).

Examples of our changes are discussed below.

We ask you to phone to change your appointment if you are feeling unwell/a close contact risk/RAT positive/awaiting COVID test results: Do NOT enter the building. We will triage your appointment. Also we have reduced the number of people in the building: one accompanying adult for each adult patient;   two accompanying adults for each child patient. Floor guidance markings are 1m apart. There is reduced seating, spaced apart. Please note the limits on the number of children: NO extra children at appointments.

Cleaning protocols have been increased. We continue to use alcohol wipes for chin and forehead rests on machines. We have reduced patients’ touch points eg no sharing of pens, no touch medicare or credit cards. Temperature testing is no touch. Initial eye pressure testing is by a single use probe eye pressure tonometer.

We have increased phone consultations (telehealth) where appropriate. However we still need to test vision eg for amblyopia (lazy eye) treatment in children. Measurements are required for intraocular/implant lens selection before cataract surgery. For glaucoma assessment, intraocular pressure, angle review, visual fields and OCT reviews are necessary to compare with your previous results. (? stable or deteriorating). This will help your discussion on treatment options and future management to prevent loss of vision.

The Future – the new normal


I anticipate public awareness of risky situations will continue. This means we will be careful when unwell and social distance.  Testing will be still be triggered by risk.

Eye Practice:

Unfortunately examination of eyes is a close contact activity. Furthermore our patients are often in a high risk category (immune suppressed, very young, elderly, disabled etc). Telehealth has been a great advance is reducing contact risk, provided it is supported by measurements/examination at other appointments. For the foreseeable future, I think we will have reduced number of accompanying children/adults in our offices. Triaging of appointment times is likely to continue.


Hospitals may request a Covid test prior to elective (non-urgent) surgery and emergency surgery.

We wish you well in this new normal.  



COVID lockdown letters by Dr Catherine Dunlop


Your Verandah is your Friend.

By Dr Catherine Dunlop

Awarded letter of week Newcastle Herald


In 2020, we have a virus which we cannot kill yet. We can avoid transmission by self-isolation. However, some of us will be lonely. Some of us will be glued to the technology screens for work or to reduce boredom. I have written this to help you logically think about simply using your veranda. (hopefully 2m wide with childproof railings)

Your verandah is your friend for surprising reasons:

  1. Looking into the distance relieves eyestrain

The eyes relax their focussing effort (accommodation) and the eye position is more parallel (less convergence). This advice is important for those using technology eg working at home or watching videos

  1. Outside light slows the onset of myopia (short-sightedness).

Australian studies of children showed the importance of 2 hours/day (14hrs or more a week) in outside light. This will delay the onset of myopia in young children. Currently myopia is increasing around the world.

Note: this is outside light entering the eyes, not light on the skin.

  1. Green colour and looking at trees is relaxing.

Note Medicare card is green not red (anger related).

  1. Sunlight stimulates immunity.

After World War 2, there were not enough antibiotics. Hospitals were built with verandas to help soldiers’ recovery. Concord Repatriation Hospital in Sydney and Royal Newcastle Hospital had wide verandas. Historically British patients with TB were advised to go the warm, sunny south of France, to help fight off their infection (no antibiotics).

Note: this is light on the skin which stimulates vitamin D and immunity

(take care, ? 10 minutes a day)

  1. Enjoying the company of others at a safe distance

Italian people sing with their neighbours from their balconies.

Please add any more advantages to using your verandah

Don’t be lonely, protect your eyes, and stimulate your immunity – use your verandah!



Restarting our Eye Routines.

By Dr Catherine Dunlop


It’s great. Now we can start to get back into a familiar routine.

Many children are long-sighted and have glasses for school. Now is the time to find them and start using them. Long-sighted eyes need to focus more, to see clearly. Using the glasses will reduce tiring and improve concentration.

Eye drops are used to control eye pressure/glaucoma. Now is the time to phone your chemist. Out of date drops should be replaced. Renew your prescription. Let’s get back into a routine of consistent use. It’s safer for your vision. Glaucoma is a “sneak thief of vision”. Remember to use your drops regularly.

Macular degeneration affects the central reading vision. Are you checking your grid pattern regularly? Time to find that grid pattern. Check each eye at the beginning of the month and during the month. This means you will know your eyes are stable. If there are any new changes, it is important to have a prompt review to protect your vision.

Let’s get back to our familiar eye routines and be eye safe.



Keep well

By Dr Catherine Dunlop


It’s time to think about keeping well before meeting the virus.

Protect your lungs.

xygen is essential for life. Healthy lungs absorb oxygen from the air. Don’t vape, (I don’t either). If you smoke, think about patches.

Avoid touching your face, eyes or glasses.

The virus enters the body from nose, mouth and lungs and possibly the lining of the eyes (conjunctiva).  When you come home from the shops or doctors, wash your hands and glasses with soap and water.

Give up the fad diets.

Oxygen is transported around the body by red blood cells. If you are a little anaemic, you will have a little less oxygen when you need it.

Use your muscles.

Even a little exercise makes you feel good and helps the blood sugar levels. Try some old fashion exercise eg hopscotch for children. For those who are older or need to sit, do you remember semaphore (taught by boy scouts, girl guides)? Different arm positions are represent   different letters of the alphabet. This will test your memory, as well as exercise your arms. If you want a cup of tea, you would have to signal letter T E A ie 3 letters. Coffee would be 4 letters. Water 5 letters. (I will get my own breakfast- too many letters)

Keep well



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