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Red Flags in Ophthalmology

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Eye problems account for 4.5 million GP consultations yearly, in the United Kingdom, and evidence shows that 50% of sight loss could be avoided through improved eye care and early detection. While often it is obvious when an eye condition needs referral (for example the red, painful eye, or sudden loss of vision), there are a number of potentially blinding or even lifethreatening conditions which may present atypically or with subtle signs that may be missed. Such misdiagnoses can have serious implications. 

This article examines common presentations in ophthalmology and suggest some important ‘red flags’ in each which merit urgent attention. We have placed emphasis on conditions which can be life or sight-threatening, which can present atypically, and whose ‘red flags’ are aspects of history or examination which are easily and quickly elicited in the GP consultation. 

It is worth noting that while many of the conditions discussed frequently present with eye symptoms (and indeed may be seen in eye casualty), they may in fact reflect other underlying disease processes (e.g. raised intracranial pressure). Having the conviction to refer such patients directly to the medical or neurology team for treatment results in a safer and faster patient journey.

Additional Info

  • Authors: RC Han, TD Robson & IH Yusuf
  • Keywords: Red flags; Ophthalmology; Urgent referral
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Read 1216 times Last modified on Friday, 28 April 2017 09:10

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