Coronavirus (COVID-19)

With the appearance of COVID-19 in Canada, the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) wants to ensure its members and their patients have the most credible information available about the virus. In addition to checking with your local public health unit, the following resources may also help meet your information needs:

CAO Members

To support members with their practice during the COVID-19 outbreak, CAO has developed an Information for Members on Coronavirus (COVID-19) one-pager. Optometrists are further encouraged to check with their provincial regulatory authority for information about primary care practice guidelines and reporting requirements for patients with infectious disease.  
There has been some speculation that conjunctivitis might be one of COVID-19’s diagnostic features. From a literature review conducted by CAO, it appears that conjunctivitis is not a diagnostic feature of the virus. Only 0.8% of confirmed COVID-19 patients present with conjunctival congestion.

COVID-19:  Areas of Federal Responsibility

New cases by province

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

Public Health Agency of Canada

Information from CAO:

Office Posters:

Teleoptometry in Canada
Times of crisis are also times of opportunity and innovation. With the rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 cases across Canada and with the imperative of social distancing to curb the spread of the infection, an increasing number of health professionals are turning to telehealth whereby certain diagnostic and treatment services are offered via telephone or other secure electronic communication means.

As a growing number of provinces encourage optometrists to focus only on non-urgent/emergent cases in order to minimize contact with and between patients, the Canadian Association of Optometry (CAO) is closely examining teleoptometry as an effective means to ensure continuity of vision care across the country.  The CAO is encouraging optometrists to consider offering some teleoptometry services to their patients where possible. The CAO is also exploring multiple issues related to the practice of teleoptometry in Canada. These include clinical guidelines, liability insurance, public insurance coverage, third party insurance coverage and others.

Information from Provincial Regulators:

BC College of Optometrists

College of Optometrists of Ontario

Ordre des Optométrites du Québec

  • Directives Actualisées
  • Recommendations for Adapting an Optometry Practice During the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) updated March 30, 2020


      • All clinical staff within two meters of any patient must wear a procedure mask at all times
      • Any patient with symptoms of respiratory infection should wear a procedure mask
      • It is possible to wear a mask for an extended period of time (without removing it) to care for multiple patients within the same clinical setting. Keep the mask on your face at all times (do not wear around neck).
      • Dispose of the mask if visibly soiled, damaged or in case of difficult breathing.  Maximum suggested wear: four hours
      • It is possible to wear a disposable gown or protective eyewear for a prolonged period (without removing them) to care for multiple patients within the same clinical setting.
      • Gloves: no recommendation to reuse or extend use

Optometry Schools:

American Optometric Association

American Academy of Optometry

American Academy of Opthalmology

World Health Organization

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