Common Ophthalmic Emergencies

G. D. Khare; R. C. Andrew Symons; D. V. Do

Disclosures

Int J Clin Pract. 2008;62(11):1776-1784. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Abstract

Ophthalmic emergencies are immediate threats to the visual system that can lead to permanent loss of visual function if left untreated. These emergencies should be detected by physicians and immediately treated and referred to an ophthalmologist if necessary. This article reviews the most common ophthalmic emergency room presentations, the history and physical examination for an ophthalmic emergency, and the diagnosis and management of each condition.
Review Criteria: Information was collected for this review via the following methods: Pubmed search of all literature on ophthalmic emergencies; consultation with common ophthalmic texts; advice and practice from the expertise at Wilmer Eye Institute.
Message for the Clinic: The ophthalmic presentations listed in our article are very common in the primary care setting. It is important that every primary care physician be able to recognise these emergencies, and either treat or refer urgently as described to avoid ophthalmic or even systemic morbidity.

Introduction

Ophthalmic emergencies include conditions that involve sudden threats to the visual system that left untreated can lead to permanent loss of visual function and severe threats to the life or function of the patient. It is of paramount importance that physicians are able to recognise the associated signs and symptoms of such emergencies and are able to instigate urgent components of the work-up and treatment. It is also important that physicians are able to recognise which patients require referral to an ophthalmologist.

This article will review the most common ophthalmic emergency room presentations, will discuss the history and physical examination for an ophthalmic emergency and then summarise the diagnosis and management of the individual conditions that are responsible for the greatest burden of morbidity.

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