In the first article of a new series, Sophia Pathai and Andrew McNaught explain how to take an ophthalmic history and do an ophthalmic examination
The answers to these problems, and more, will be outlined in this series of articles. Although ophthalmology is a specialist subject, we hope to show you that you don't need amazing ophthalmic knowledge or specialist equipment to elicit the clinical signs that often point to the diagnosis. Most of the time you will need to refer the patient to the ophthalmologist for further management, but imagine how impressive your referral will be when you can give a differential list rather than just “red eye--possible conjunctivitis?” Seriously, having some basic practical ophthalmic knowledge and skills will ensure that you are able to assess the severity of an eye condition and the need for, or urgency of, referral. It means that you will hopefully consider the possibility of acute angle closure glaucoma in your elderly patient with acute abdominal pain and a red eye.
It's important to remember that it's not just