Industry suppliers are turning their hand to personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacture and distribution to help support those working on the frontline, including within eyecare practices.
Grafton shields and screens
Grafton Optical has designed and manufactured a large, Universal Slit Lamp Breath Shield to supply to independent and chain opticians, hospitals and universities across the UK and Ireland.
Grafton Optical CEO, David Thickens, said: “These are being locally produced, helping to support UK business and we are making these accessible to as many practices and organisations as possible. We have seen huge popularity in this product, supplying over 1,000 units in the first two weeks. Feedback on the shield has been fantastic.”
Grafton Optical Slit Lamp Breath Shields are available to buy here.
The company has also just made available a range of Clear Perspex Counter Top Hygiene Screens. Constructed of durable 5mm clear Perspex for easy cleaning, these free standing screens can be used on desktops and counters to help maintain suitable distance requirements for infection control.
These are available in four sizes, with or without access slots, and are available to buy here.
Free shields for Spectralis users
Heidelberg Engineering is shipping protective breath shields free of charge to Spectralis owners in the UK.
The shield is designed to form a transparent barrier between the patient and the operator of the device in order to minimise the risk of the transfer of pathogens (NOTE: it is not an approved medical device and it is not guaranteed to block transmission of viral pathogens, reduce the risk of infection, or prevent disease).
“We are committed to aiding our customers in every way we can during the Covid-19 pandemic”, explained Tosh Vadhia, general manager, Heidelberg Engineering. “We are providing the breath shields free of charge in a special initiative to support the NHS and our optometry customers who are still providing emergency services to their communities.
“We hope the breath shields, combined with other personal protective equipment, will help eyecare professionals to continue to provide essential ophthalmic imaging services to patients as safely as possible during this challenging time.”
Alcon is offering slit lamp breath shields to practices seeing emergency patients. Jonathon Bench, head of professional affairs, Alcon UK & Ireland, said: “We are constantly looking for ways of supporting eyecare professionals through these unprecedented times, and are pleased to offer a number of slit lamp breath shields for those who are currently seeing emergency patients.”
In the UK and Ireland, Alcon is also supporting customers as they move to a direct to patient delivery model. It is encouraging customers to get in contact so it can continue to understand their needs and work with them in building their continuity plans. It is also offering free delivery of Alcon contact lenses to all key workers.
Through its Zeiss Medical Technology business segment, Zeiss is offering independent opticians two free slit lamp breath shields per practice. The protective shields are simple to install on most slit lamps, regardless of make or model, while still allowing easy access to device controls and patients*, the company stated.
Lindsay Filmer, marketing director at Zeiss Vision Care UK & Ireland, commented: “We are keen to be supporting our ECPs in whatever way we can as they remain open to look after key workers. In line with recommendations from ophthalmic societies around the world to enhance protective protocols, these slit lamp breath shields are providing opticians and patients alike with reassurance.”
Opticians can request either one or two shields here and can access further advice and support, such as guidelines on disinfecting ophthalmic devices, here.
The breath shield is not an approved medical device, nor guaranteed to block transmission of viral pathogens, to reduce risk of disease infection, or to prevent any disease.
HandsOnScience Face Shield
HandsOnScience face shields
Hands on Science has designed and is manufacturing FaceShields in the UK to protect key workers.
The shields are designed to be light weight and comfortable to minimise fatigue, affordable and reusable.
“This is not a commercial venture,” said Mark Watson of the company. “Our charge per visor just covers the cost of making and shipping the Face Shields. I designed the first one to help a friend’s daughter who is a registrar in a palliative care ward and was working without any facial protection. We thought that we should offer them to help protect others and by covering the cost of materials, assembly and postage we could operate sustainably and help the maximum number of people.”
Click here for more on the use of PPE in practice.
UPDATE 5 MAY: Public Health England-recommended PPE is now available from a new online shop, set up by the Local Optical Committee Support Unit and Primary Eyecare Services. Read more about this new initiative here.