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Red Eye for the Correctional Nurse

The complaint of red eye is common, and may include redness of the eyelids/lacriminal sac; the conjunctiva; the anterior chamber; the sclera; the orbit; and the uveal tract. It may or may not be associated with vision changes or complete visual loss. Most causes of red eye are self-limiting, but it is crucial that a thorough history and examination be conducted. Assessment of red eye includes a focused history that includes onset, location (one or both eyes affected), associated pain, vision loss, discharge, photophobia, swelling, tearing, itchiness, and recent cold, cough or eye trauma. A visual acuity test should be conducted for any patient presenting with a red eye. Red eye may be caused by a number of underlying conditions, including conjunctivitis, blepharitis, chalazion, hordeolum and uveitis. A patient with a red, painful eye and vision changes should be considered to have an emergent medical problem that needs evaluation quickly.

This class includes discussion regarding the anatomy of the eye and the common conditions associated with red eye. Nursing interventions and patient education are also included for each condition.