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Can J Ophthalmol. 2018 Oct;53(5):497-502. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjo.2018.01.008. Epub 2018 Mar 1.

Prospective analysis of emergency ophthalmic referrals in a Canadian tertiary teaching hospital.

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UBC Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Vancouver, B.C.; Vancouver General Hospital Eye Care Centre, Vancouver, B.C.. Electronic address:
UBC Faculty of Medicine, Kelowna, B.C.
UBC Faculty of Science, Vancouver, B.C.
UBC Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Vancouver, B.C.; Vancouver General Hospital Eye Care Centre, Vancouver, B.C.



This study was conducted to analyze data from emergency ophthalmology referrals after hours from different hospitals to identify the most common pathologies and compare accuracy of diagnoses. Additionally, examination findings, including visual acuity (VA), intraocular pressure (IOP), and pupils from referring service and ophthalmic examination, were compared to assess agreement.


This was a prospective study that reviewed information collected from referring services to the emergency on-call ophthalmology service and compared it with ophthalmic examination between February 2017 and July 2017.


The number of referrals from each hospital was reviewed. Referring physician provisional diagnosis, VA, IOP, and pupil assessment were collected to analyze the agreement between ophthalmic examination and diagnosis.


The observed agreement rate was 67.0% between referring source and ophthalmic diagnosis. Posterior vitreous detachment (12.2%) was the most common diagnosis, followed by corneal abrasion (7.4%) and retinal detachment (5.3%). Referring services measured VA to be worse than on-call ophthalmology service (right eye Z = -5.47, p < 0.001; left eye Z = -5.44, p < 0.001), and IOP measurement by referring services was significantly higher (p < 0.05). The observed agreement rate of pupillary assessment was 91% between referring services and ophthalmology services.


Data suggest that there is moderate agreement for diagnostic category between referring service and ophthalmology examination in regard to provisional diagnosis and pupillary assessment. Both VA and IOP were measured to be higher by referring services. This study highlights common emergency ophthalmic referrals and suggests potential areas for teaching initiatives for primary care physicians assessing ophthalmic emergency patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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