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Hamilton Eye Institute Emphasizes Importance of Emergency Care During Coronavirus Pandemic

HEI technician Emily Reid wears personal protective equipment in her work station.

The Hamilton Eye Institute (HEI) at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center has continued to serve the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While we are following the Safer at Home guidelines, HEI has remained open to provide urgent care and emergency services to our patients and their families,” said Penny A. Asbell, MD, FACS, MBA, FARVO, chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and HEI director. “It was important to us to remain physically open because emergencies are always occurring, especially in ophthalmic health. While telehealth is a common practice, it is not recommended for acute eye issues. In-person evaluation and treatment are vital. Protecting vision is key. Often, early diagnosis and treatment make the difference in the long-term health of the eye and preservation of vision.”

All HEI faculty, staff, and residents interacting with patients are prepared with personal protective equipment—masks, gloves, eye wear and hand sanitizer. Services being offered include urgent surgeries for trauma, infection, glaucoma, and retina issues. Specialty testing for conditions such as sudden loss of vision and cataracts is also available at HEI and its partner hospitals. Ophthalmology residents are also assisting patients. Residents are divided into two groups in order to cut down on the risk of virus exposure that could affect all residents and impact their ability to provide service.

HEI offers the following eye safety tips and insight during COVID-19, courtesy of the American Association of Ophthalmology:

  • Take care of your eyes!
  • Use protective eye gear with high- risk activities — construction, sports, etc.
  • Don’t stop needed eye drops.
  • Seek emergency care if you are experiencing eye pain, loss of vision, discharge, or trauma
  • If sick, remove your contact lenses and avoid touching your face.
  • Tears may contain traces of the coronavirus, but this is unlikely in most cases.

The Hamilton Eye Institute is located at 930 Madison Avenue in Memphis and at  8001 Centerview Pkwy #101 in Cordova. For appointments and more information, contact 901.448.6500.


Editor’s note: This is another in a series of stories looking at how UTHSC students, faculty, and staff across the campus are contributing to the battle against the coronavirus. We are seeking stories about students, faculty, staff, and alumni contributing to this effort. Please contact communications@uthsc.edu if you have ideas for future stories. For up-to-date information and resources about the coronavirus, go to https://uthsc.edu/coronavirus/.