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Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Eye Protection: COVID-19

Audience: These considerations are intended for use by federal, state, and local public health officials; leaders in occupational health services and infection prevention and control programs; and other leaders in healthcare settings who are responsible for developing and implementing policies and procedures for preventing pathogen transmission in healthcare settings.

Purpose: This document offers a series of strategies or options to optimize supplies of eye protection in healthcare settings when there is limited supply. It does not address other aspects of pandemic planning; for those, healthcare facilities can refer to COVID-19 preparedness plans.

Surge capacity refers to the ability to manage a sudden, unexpected increase in patient volume that would otherwise severely challenge or exceed the present capacity of a facility. While there are no commonly accepted measurements or triggers to distinguish surge capacity from daily patient care capacity, surge capacity is a useful framework to approach a decreased supply of eye protection during the COVID-19 response. Three general strata have been used to describe surge capacity and can be used to prioritize measures to conserve eye protection supplies along the continuum of care.

  • Conventional capacity: measures consist of providing patient care without any change in daily contemporary practices. This set of measures, consisting of engineering, administrative, and personal protective equipment (PPE) controls should already be implemented in general infection prevention and control plans in healthcare settings.
  • Contingency capacity: measures may change daily standard practices but may not have any significant impact on the care delivered to the patient or the safety of healthcare personnel (HCP). These practices may be used temporarily during periods of expected eye protection shortages.
  • Crisis capacity: strategies that are not commensurate with U.S. standards of care. These measures, or a combination of these measures, may need to be considered during periods of known eye protection shortages.

The following contingency and crisis strategies are based upon these assumptions:

  1. Facilities understand their eye protection inventory and supply chain
  2. Facilities understand their eye protection utilization rate
  3. Facilities are in communication with local healthcare coalitions, federal, state, and local public health partners (e.g., public health emergency preparedness and response staff) regarding identification of additional supplies
  4. Facilities have already implemented other engineering and administrative control measures including:
    • Reducing the number of patients going to the hospital or outpatient settings
    • Excluding HCP not essential for patient care from entering their care area
    • Reducing face-to-face HCP encounters with patients
    • Excluding visitors to patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19
    • Cohorting patients and HCP
    • Maximizing use of telemedicine
  5. Facilities have provided HCP with required education and training, including having them demonstrate competency with donning and doffing, with any PPE ensemble that is used to perform job responsibilities, such as provision of patient care

Conventional Capacity Strategies

Use eye protection according to product labeling and local, state, and federal requirements.

Contingency Capacity Strategies

Selectively cancel elective and non-urgent procedures and appointments for which eye protection is typically used by HCP.

Shift eye protection supplies from disposable to re-usable devices (i.e., goggles and reusable face shields).

  • Consider preferential use of powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs) or full-face elastomeric respirators which have built-in eye protection.
  • Ensure appropriate cleaning and disinfection between users if goggles or reusable face shields are used.

Implement extended use of eye protection.

Extended use of eye protection is the practice of wearing the same eye protection for repeated close contact encounters with several different patients, without removing eye protection between patient encounters. Extended use of eye protection can be applied to disposable and reusable devices.

  • Eye protection should be removed and reprocessed if it becomes visibly soiled or difficult to see through.
    • If a disposable face shield is reprocessed, it should be dedicated to one HCP and reprocessed whenever it is visibly soiled or removed (e.g., when leaving the isolation area) prior to putting it back on. See protocol for removing and reprocessing eye protection below.
  • Eye protection should be discarded if damaged (e.g., face shield can no longer fasten securely to the provider, if visibility is obscured and reprocessing does not restore visibility).
  • HCP should take care not to touch their eye protection. If they touch or adjust their eye protection they must immediately perform hand hygiene.
  • HCP should leave patient care area if they need to remove their eye protection. See protocol for removing and reprocessing eye protection below.

Crisis Capacity Strategies

Cancel all elective and non-urgent procedures and appointments for which eye protection is typically used by HCP.

Use eye protection devices beyond the manufacturer-designated shelf life during patient care activities.

If there is no date available on the eye protection device label or packaging, facilities should contact the manufacturer. The user should visually inspect the product prior to use and, if there are concerns (such as degraded materials), discard the product.

Prioritize eye protection for selected activities such as:

  • During care activities where splashes and sprays are anticipated, which typically includes aerosol generating procedures.
  • During activities where prolonged face-to-face or close contact with a potentially infectious patient is unavoidable.

Consider using safety glasses (e.g., trauma glasses) that have extensions to cover the side of the eyes. However, protective eyewear (e.g., safety glasses, trauma glasses) with gaps between glasses and the face likely do not protect eyes from all splashes and sprays.

Exclude HCP at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 from contact with known or suspected COVID-19 patients.

Designate convalescent HCP for provision of care to known or suspected COVID-19 patients.

  • It may be possible to designate HCP who have clinically recovered from COVID-19 to preferentially provide care for additional patients with COVID-19. Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 infection may have developed some protective immunity, but this has not yet been confirmed.

Selected Options for Reprocessing Eye Protection

Adhere to recommended manufacturer instructions for cleaning and disinfection.

When manufacturer instructions for cleaning and disinfection are unavailable, such as for single use disposable face shields, consider:

  1. While wearing gloves, carefully wipe the inside, followed by the outside of the face shield or goggles using a clean cloth saturated with neutral detergent solution or cleaner wipe.
  2. Carefully wipe the outside of the face shield or goggles using a wipe or clean cloth saturated with EPA-registered hospital disinfectant solution.
  3. Wipe the outside of face shield or goggles with clean water or alcohol to remove residue.
  4. Fully dry (air dry or use clean absorbent towels).
  5. Remove gloves and perform hand hygiene.

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