How will COVID-19 Impact Us?

By Cortney Murchie

For all eye care professionals, 2020 was meant to be our year. Now, just 4 months in, we are all too well aware that COVID-19, has halted life as we know it and left us all in limbo.

Given the uncertainty of this time, we have had to adapt and change the way we practice. All of us charting unknown territories that has forced some offices to close their storefront and operate completely online, while some remain open taking emergencies only.

I personally did not anticipate the magnitude to which this would affect us and our industry. I still held hope that this would be under control as rapidly as it appeared even when the optical events we were all looking forward to were held in question by the threat of COVID-19. MIDO, held in Milan, Italy, and arguably the most prestigious international eyewear show, was the first to officially be rescheduled, initially to July 2020 and then to February 2021. Still, I did not fathom the impact it would have on the entire world.

Then, Vision Expo East, held at the Javits Center in New York City, where ECPs congregate for a four-day divertissement that includes one of the most dynamic showings of optical collections in North America officially announced March 3 that it would be cancelled and consolidated with Vision Expo West in Las Vegas this September. This announcement was when it finally started to hit me. This wasn’t going away anytime soon, and the way in which we operated was going to change.

The Javits Center in New York City has since been converted into a field hospital for COVID-19 patients as NYC has become a hot zone for the coronavirus, further putting into perspective, the degree that this is not only affecting our industry but the entire world.

On March 11, the World Health Organization announced that COVID-19 was officially being declared as a global pandemic.

Here in Alberta a state of public health emergency was declared on March 17, 2020 and shortly thereafter Optometry offices were open for emergencies only. I had watched fellow Opticians from around North America deal with this earlier, yet nothing prepared me for how this would make me feel. I went from seeing patients daily for adjustments, repairs and frame selection to spending just over a month watching webinars and doing continuing education at home. I’ve been left missing the comradeship and communication with my co-workers and patients.

The impact COVID-19 has had on my life both professionally and personally has been profound – as it has been for most people – and I find comfort in talking to friends and other ECPs about what this means to them and what it means to you.

Over the next few weeks, I will be talking to fellow ECPs around North America regarding COVID-19 and how it is affecting them and how they feel this could impact our industry as a whole.

Together we are stronger, and we can help each other navigate through this pandemic and shift our focus to ways in which this will change our daily operations.

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