My Quarantine Routine: Bhavin, an optometrist trying to do online consultations

As we rely on screens more than ever, you might notice that your eyes are struggling.

But with social distancing measures in place, getting an eye test is not possible unless it’s something very serious.

Optometrist Bhavin Shah owns Central Vision Opticians. He is trying to help and reassure patients with online consultations, giving tips and advice to help reduce any strain on their eyes.

The 46-year-old lives in live in Mill Hill, North London, and is isolating with his wife and two daughters, age 12 and 14.

For My Quarantine Routine, he explains how they spent Tuesday 14 April.

8 am

Alarm goes off – later than if the kids were going to school and I was going to my practice to see patients. I allow myself a couple of snoozes and get out of bed.

8:20 am

Join the nation in trying to get fit so I start the day with an exercise challenge: 100 day press-ups and sit-ups – managed to get to 14 today.

Make tea for myself and my wife who is also working full time from home. The kids are still asleep as there’s one more week before they ‘go back’ to school. Virtually.

The stubble has grown so I shower and shave: self-care is important. I always feel better, clean and fresh after a shave. I usually make sure that I do it at the beginning of the week and every couple of days

9 am

Try to contact the council about the business grant for retailers. When I attempted to apply, there was an error in my application. No one who answers the phone.

I managed to receive a generic response that said there was a delay in sending out the payments but this provides little reassurance.

The grant that was promised to retailers by the government should be a lifeline to if and when it reaches the business. I live in hope.

9:30 am

Whatsapp message with my practice assistant manager to review outstanding work and issues from last week. I like to start the week and day with a plan of action.

10 am

I decided to switch to a Microsoft teams meeting with my assistant to plan the work for today. I get some morning sunshine and do this meeting in the garden. Having a conversation ‘face to face’ is often better than over the phone or messaging.

It’s a chance to catch-up after the long weekend and re-connect with staff. We discuss the outstanding jobs and activities for the day.

We have some glasses that we are waiting to receive from the glazing laboratory and as soon as they arrive, we can post them to our patients who are in urgent need of them especially as they are using screens more. It’s important for us to use the time during the lockdown to keep in touch with our patients and answer their queries.

11 am

Use the power of the internet and social media to facilitate reaching out and connecting with professionals around the world.

The additional time I’ve gained because I can’t see routine patients means I can focus on developing my professional network and sharing my experiences with others.

12 pm

My dad calls to ask for help with his computer as he has had difficulties accessing files. Luckily remote access to his computer allows me to resolve the problem from afar.

12:30 pm

Time to start on making lunch for the family: vegetarian fish finger wraps. I had an avocado and smoked cheese baguette.

The kids watch an episode of Gilmore Girls on Netflix (they’re addicted) as a break from the activities they’ve set themselves to keep themselves occupied. I think about how other parents with younger children who need more supervision are coping with the new normal!

1:30 pm 

Work on some accounts and invoices for bookkeeping for my business as it is the start of the new accounting year. Even though the customers have almost stopped, the business admin doesn’t.

2:30 pm

Had a telephone consultation with a concerned mother whose daughter has been struggling to see things across the dining room as they’ve set up a whiteboard for her home schooling.

The symptoms were apparently there for a few months before the lockdown. The child is likely to have become (more) short sighted, but for now we’ll have to wait for restrictions to be lifted before we give her a sight test.

There is no immediate risk to wait two to three months though we need to keep an eye on this.

I’ve also advised her to ensure that the child takes regular breaks from close work/computer use, holds reading material further away and has good posture/sits-up when reading.

Outdoor time also helps to reduce the risk and progression of short sightedness (myopia). Even reading outdoors is better than reading indoors.

3 pm

Another telephone consultation with a concerned person who’s recently started working from home as a result of the lockdown. Increased computer use has been giving him very tired and achy eyes.

After performing a teleconsultation, I advise that he needs to be taking more regular breaks from using the computer. I will follow-up with him in four days to monitor any changes.

3:30 pm

Make a cup of mint tea for my wife whilst she’s on her next virtual meeting. A regular cup of tea for me. Its always important to stay hydrated and take a break.

4 pm

Another tele-consultation from a patient who has been suffering symptoms of headaches whilst working from home.

I’ve recommended taking more breaks from working, at least 10 minutes every hour and try to go outside during the break. I’ll follow-up with him in one week.

4:30 pm

Completed an article about office workers and the things they should be doing to help look after their eyes whilst they work from home.

It is important to give advice about best practice for home-working, how to reduce the symptoms of eye strain and what people should be doing to maintain their eye health.

Complete an additional article about how the COVID-19 could make children more short-sighted due to homeschooling and subsequent increase in screen and indoor time.

5 pm

Essential break for water. Back to writing again.

6 pm

Not been outside since this morning. It’s time to finish work for now and get outside.

It’s a sunny day so I decide to get into the garden again to teach the girls how to juggle. Juggling improves visual skills, hand-eye coordination, visual processing and learning and its great fun. Takes me back to when I learnt to juggle as a child.

6:30 pm

Help prepare vegetables and wash up as my wife makes dinner. We get our kids involved in the cooking process too and it’s been great that they have wanted to do more cooking since being in lockdown.

We have dinner and talk about our days and wash up. The kids are excited to start school again next week. Catch up on social media messages and posts.

8 pm

Time for a short TV break as a family.

8:30 pm

Joined a webinar about mental health and how to look after ourselves during this crisis. Heard some great motivational speakers and it helped to put things into perspective. I could see the family doing a workout whilst I was on the webinar.

10 pm

Listened to my younger daughter reading from her book. Realised we haven’t done that for a while and it was lovely to hear her add her dramatization to the story.

10:30 pm

Ordered an eighth birthday card for my niece online, we’re lucky to be able to have these resources and still be able to get physical cards to family and friends during Covid-19.

11 pm

Did a quick quiz with my wife and chatted about our days, plans for the week including food menus and virtual events in the evenings.

We both reflect on how much more time we’re spending cooking and cleaning with all of us at home for all our meals. It’s taken some getting used to but we think we’ve gotten into a groove and tried to adapt as best we can to this new normal.

12 am

Get ready for bed. Read some news (with blue light). Generally I try not to look at my phone so late at night but I want to make sure I’m up to speed with the latest information from the government and the latest stats.

I think about how things will be once we are on the other side of the pandemic and whether life will ever go back to being the same.

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