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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 27  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 268-270

Routine slit lamp examination procedures: A risk for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection to eye care professionals

1 Department of Ophthalmology, University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria
2 Department of Ophthalmology, University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, Uyo, Nigeria
3 Department of Ophthalmology, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ernest Ikechukwu Ezeh
Department of Ophthalmology, University of Calabar, Calabar, Cross River State
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/npmj.npmj_223_20

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Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a highly infectious coronavirus, has been rapidly spreading after its surge in China in December 2019. It is currently a global pandemic. A myriad of transmission routes have been documented, however established thus far, are respiratory droplet, contact and airborne transmissions. Susceptible persons at proximity, usually within 1–2 m, to infected persons are largely at risk of being infected. Unfortunately, health workers usually evaluate patients within this distance. Eye care professionals (ECPs) are faced with a higher risk scenario of being infected as they undertake routine clinical eye examination procedures at a close face-to-face proximity to patients, which place them at a high risk of respiratory droplets and aerosolised particles, particularly from asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic carriers. The slit lamp examination procedure is typically at a distance of between 0.25 m and 0.5 m. While undertaking certain procedures on the slit lamp, such as gonioscopy and slit lamp indirect ophthalmoscopy, the ECP holds the accessory lenses either directly on the patient's eye or at about 5–10 cm from the patient's face, respectively. The authors found it pertinent to articulate this narrative review article to guide slit lamp examination practice by ECPs during routine ophthalmic evaluation, with a view to reducing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 to ECPs. In conclusion, ECPs are at increased risk of infection due to high-risk scenarios for routine slit lamp examination procedures of the eye. Adherence to standard precautionary measures with slit lamp use is highly recommended.

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