President's Calling - Life in the Time of COVID-19

Published March 27, 2020

Life in the Time of COVID-19

Dear Academy Membership,

Your Academy believes that our fellowship is more important than ever. We are afraid because of so many uncertainties, many are without income for some time, and all of us do not know what our world will be when this pandemic ends.
To this end, I have decided to share ideas and stories from our members as we all face these unprecedented times.
A morning smile
I only see my grandchildren on Skype these days and most of the time they are not too interested in Nannie. Paw Patrol wins every time. However, when we turned to the issue of what song to sing while washing our hands there was a certain level of excitement. Ethan, the five-year-old, has graduated from his “ABCs” to “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” while Benjamin, the three-year-old, insists on “Twinkle Twinkle.” I advised that I was singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and added that I realized it was ridiculous because it certainly is not Christmastime and quipped “but what the heck”…to which Benjamin said “Nannie, you’re not supposed to say ‘what the heck.’ Some days you just can’t win.
How Can We Help?
The Academy Board is thinking hard about what our membership can do during this pandemic. Obviously, staying home as much as possible, washing our hands, and following the advisories of our local health professionals is a given. There is a great need for protective equipment at hospitals. If your office is closed and there is PPE sitting on a shelf, you might consider getting those items to a local hospital.
Optometrists at Work During the Pandemic
There are stories to be told. I have colleagues who work at VA hospitals around the country who continue to work despite state-wide, shelter-in-place orders. When they head out in the morning, some must carry official letters that prove the essential nature of their work, in case they are stopped by the police. They are aware that while their work, currently, is to see urgent eye cases, a surge in the number of critically ill patients may cause a shift in their responsibilities as they fulfill unexpected roles in responding to the crisis.
Our Future: Students
And what of the schools and colleges of optometry? Their classrooms, labs, and clinics are closed. The students are worried about graduating. They wonder if they should go home or should stay in place? The professors are finding ways to teach online and the Academy has stepped up to help as well. We sent out a call for case report lectures and filled over 100 hours of clinical teaching in two days! The Academy staff, lead by Peter Scott, simply flew into action and our membership rose to the occasion in record time.
These are difficult days. Stay safe, stay calm, and stay home.
If you have a story about how you are practicing or coping that you wish to share (de-identified of course) please email

Barbara Caffery, OD, PhD, FAAO