It seems we are finally making it out of the Covid era. For the last couple of years, just as things seemed to pick up slightly, another wave hit. After so much disruption, it feels like now is the time to normalise the situation. Yet, after such a historical global event, returning to ‘normal’ feels quite odd.
Working as usual could be a daunting experience, which is why, in my opinion, it’s quite inconceivable to work and travel as we used to. Things have moved on rapidly from when the only thing separating eyecare practitioners (ECPs) from their patients was a tiny plastic sneeze/breath protector hanging from a slit lamp. But the sudden technological changes we have all been forced to adapt to are not the only things that have changed.
Nowadays, our patients are not the only ones travelling and gathering knowledge, but increasingly, so are we. As ECPs we need to constantly develop our skills and be updated with the latest information, and we must always offer the best advice and management to our patients. Therefore, international conferences and events are endeavouring to return to business as usual, but I confess to having mixed emotions to this.
Within a matter of a months, I’ve attended four conferences and been in five countries. Travelling is always fun, but one downside is the often evolving differences between countries’ regulations. You always need to be mindful of where you are and what you can and cannot do. Indeed, on each of my last four flights I received completely different advice and was subject to different expectations regarding mask wear.
Such changes can feel quite overwhelming, but in the end attending professional events, creating connections and memories, seeing the speakers in action and being able to have a conversation with them is something we can’t put a price on. Communicating and learning from each other is a basic human need. ECPs need that rapport and empathy to better support our patients. In the end, we all need to be understanding of different views, and one thing Covid taught us is the importance of learning and adapting to overcome challenges together.
Dr Sònia Travé Huarte is a postdoctoral researcher, optometrist and clinical supervisor at Aston University, UK, specialising in ocular surface disease management, MGD and corneal pain.