DOH Issues Health Advisory Regarding Universal Use of Eye Protection
Late last week, the Department of Health (DOH/the Department) issued a health advisory strongly recommending universal use of eye protection by healthcare personnel for all patient interactions, in addition to face masks. The advisory observed that wearing both face masks and eye protection provides better protection for healthcare personnel who might unknowingly encounter asymptomatic, pre-symptomatic, or symptomatic but undiagnosed cases of COVID-19. The use of eye protection, in addition to face masks, might prevent some exposures that would otherwise require healthcare worker furlough (e.g. when a healthcare worker is in contact with a person with COVID-19 who was not wearing a face mask, see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-risk-assesmenthcp.html). Face shields or goggles should be used. Standard eyeglasses are not personal protective equipment (PPE) and do not constitute sufficient eye protection.
In the advisory, DOH recognized that PPE supply shortages might prevent universal use of eye protection in all healthcare encounters. In this situation, the shortage should be documented, and eye protection should be reserved for and considered required for the care of patients and residents:
• with known COVID-19;
• with symptoms consistent with COVID-19;
• having known exposure to a person with COVID-19; or
• in settings with a higher prevalence of patients or residents with COVID-19.
Such settings include, but are not limited to, emergency departments, outpatient clinics and practices which routinely see patients with acute infectious diseases, and nursing homes which have recently had residents or staff positive for COVID-19. Healthcare facilities and practices are referred to NYSDOH and CDC guidance on extended use and cleaning and disinfection of eye protection as a contingency strategy for PPE conservation.
Further information is available at:
General questions or comments about this advisory can be sent to [email protected].