Epidemiology of ocular emergencies in a large Canadian eye centre

Natalia M. Binczyk, Samir A. Nazarali, Karim F. Damji, Carlos Solarte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The Eye Institute of Alberta Emergency Eye Clinic (EIA EEC) is a tertiary eye care centre that provides emergency eye services to a population of more than 1 million. The purpose of this study was to describe the epidemiology of ocular emergencies at the EIA EEC. Design: Prospective epidemiologic study based on secondary use of patient data. Participants: All patients seen in the EIA EEC on weekdays between July 2020 and June 2021. Methods: Charts were reviewed to obtain patient demographics, referral details, final diagnoses, need for imaging, emergency procedures, or further referrals. SPSS Statistics was used for data analysis. Results: A total of 2586 patients were seen over the study period. Most of the referrals (58%) were from emergency physicians. Optometrists and general physicians contributed 14% and 11% of referrals, respectively. Most referral diagnoses were related to inflammation (32%), and trauma (22%). Of all the cases of inflammation, 41% involved infection of the eye and 8% involved infection of ocular adnexa. In addition, 44% and 7% of cases involved noninfectious inflammation of the eye and adnexa, respectively. Frequently preformed emergency procedures were corneal or conjunctival foreign-body removal (39%) and corneal scraping (14%). Conclusions: Continuing education related to emergency eye care may be most beneficial to emergency physicians, general practitioners, and optometrists. Educational opportunities could focus on most frequently seen diagnostic categories such as inflammation and trauma. Targeted public education aimed at preventing ocular trauma and infection, such as promoting wearing eye protection and practicing contact lens hygiene, may be beneficial.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCanadian Journal of Ophthalmology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


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