The COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed healthcare systems around the world. Eye care services were put on hold or in-person appointments were limited as countries locked down, affecting those who needed these services the most. The impact of delaying eye care, especially in cases of degenerative eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataracts, is simply too high a cost when it comes to saving sight.
The pandemic has also highlighted significant communication barriers for patients with hearing or speech impairments. The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) has placed these individuals at a great disadvantage for being able to communicate and receive appropriate care.
The Vision Academy, comprising an international group of more than 80 experts in the field of vision and ageing, in partnership with the International Federation on Ageing (IFA) and Bayer AG, have developed an infographic on ways to support patients with hearing and/or speaking challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The infographic provides guidance for ophthalmologists on how to communicate clearly to deliver effective care, while minimizing the risk of infection.
Best practices include establishing clear sight lines, good lighting, a quiet space, using hands and body language for better understanding, and having written information ready to enhance clarity.
For further information on best practices for effective communication with hearing and/or speech impaired patients during COVID-19, please contact IFA experts Dr. Jane Barratt, Secretary General of the IFA, who played a key role in developing a guidance document on the topic, and Helen Louise Gillis, National President of the Canadian Council of the Blind and leading advocate for accessibility for blind/vision impaired Canadians.
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