Written by: Philip Jackson, MD (NUEM PGY-3) Edited by: Jesus Trevino, MD (NUEM PGY-4) Expert commentary by: Rehan Hussain, MD
Thank you for this excellent diagram, which demonstrates a thorough and systematic approach to the most common ocular complaints one would encounter in the ED. In assessing a painful red eye, there is so much value in determining whether the discomfort is relieved with topical anesthetics, as you can reliably confine the pathology to the cornea or conjunctiva in those cases. However, a red eye associated with deep achy pain that is not relieved with tetracaine could be caused by scleritis, which is highly associated with autoimmune disease. If cells and flare are visible in the anterior chamber, uveitis is more likely. Any history of a recent eye procedure should prompt you to consider endophthalmitis, which can be visually devastating, and warrants urgent ophthalmology referral.
In diagnosing conjunctivitis, you did a great job of highlighting the importance of a good history in determining the etiology . I would add that asking about sexual history can be valuable, as gonorrhea can present with copious purulent discharge, and chlamydia can present with chronic follicular conjunctivitis. Both would warrant systemic antibiotics and treatment of partners, in addition to eyedrops.
Acute angle closure glaucoma is a diagnosis that should be considered in almost all cases of unilateral headache. It can mimic migraine, since both may present with nausea, vomiting, and visual disturbances. Checking the eye pressure is the most important step to making the diagnosis.
Finally, acute onset of floaters and/or flashes always warrants an ophthalmology consult to rule out retinal detachment. Ultrasound is a useful tool to differentiate retinal detachment from posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) and vitreous hemorrhage. PVD and vitreous hemorrhages tend to move freely when the eye moves, whereas retinal detachment is anchored to the nerve but still flaps with eye movement.
Once again, this diagram serves as a very helpful flowchart to trouble-shoot eye complaints in the ED.
Rehan M. Hussain, MD
Vitreoretinal Surgery Fellow
Bascom Palmer Eye Institute
University of Miami Health System
How To Cite This Post
[Peer-Reviewed, Web Publication] Jackson P, Trevino J (2018, October 22). Anatomic approach to ocular complaints. [NUEM Blog. Expert Commentary by Hussain R]. Retrieved from http://www.nuemblog.com/blog/ocular-complaints