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Original Investigation | Journal Club

Awareness and Knowledge of Emergent Ophthalmic Disease Among Patients in an Internal Medicine Clinic

Joshua H. Uhr, BA1; Kapil Mishra, BS1; Chen Wei1; Albert Y. Wu, MD, PhD1,2
[+] Author Affiliations
1Department of Ophthalmology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York
2Department of Medical Education, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2016;134(4):424-431. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2015.6212.
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Importance  Emergent ophthalmic disease can lead to permanent visual impairment or blindness if medical attention is delayed. Awareness and knowledge of emergent ophthalmic disease may be important for early medical presentation and maximization of visual prognosis in some cases.

Objective  To assess public awareness and knowledge of 4 emergent ophthalmic diseases.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This cross-sectional study was conducted from June 1 to July 30, 2015, in the waiting rooms of the outpatient internal medicine resident clinic at Mount Sinai Hospital. A written survey was administered to evaluate awareness and knowledge of retinal detachment, acute angle-closure glaucoma, giant cell arteritis, and central retinal artery occlusion. Awareness of each disease was assessed by whether participants knew what the diseases were (yes or no). Knowledge was evaluated by responses to 3 questions for each disease, including 1 question about basic pathophysiologic features, 1 question about basic symptoms, and 1 question about basic treatment options. All English-speaking patients who were physically and cognitively able to fill out the survey without assistance were considered eligible and offered the opportunity to participate during times of survey distribution; 237 completed the survey. Demographic information, including age, sex, race, income, and educational level, was collected. Data were assessed from August 1 to 7, 2015.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Awareness of each ophthalmic disease was determined by the proportion of respondents who answered yes, and knowledge was determined by the proportion of aware respondents who answered the knowledge questions correctly.

Results  Two hundred thirty-seven patients (of 227 who gave complete demographic information, 76 men [33.5%], 151 women [66.5%], and mean [SD] age, 51.3 [16.8] years) completed the survey. Awareness of each of the diseases studied was low; 61 of 220 respondents (27.7%; 95% CI, 21.8%-33.6%) were aware of retinal detachment; 32 of 219 respondents (14.6%; 95% CI, 9.9%-19.3%), acute angle-closure glaucoma; 11 of 216 respondents (5.1%; 95% CI, 2.2%-8.0%), giant cell arteritis; and 10 of 218 respondents (4.6%; 95% CI, 1.8%-7.4%), central retinal artery occlusion. Respondents who were aware and knowledgeable ranged from 29 of 199 (14.6%) for the pathophysiologic features of retinal detachment, 1 of 208 (0.5%) for the symptoms and 2 of 203 (1.0%) for treatment of giant cell arteritis, and 1 of 193 (0.5%) for the pathophysiologic features of central retinal artery occlusion.

Conclusions and Relevance  Levels of awareness and knowledge of emergent ophthalmic diseases are low. These results indicate a need to educate the public about these acutely vision-threatening entities to ensure early medical presentation, to achieve the best possible visual prognosis, and to preserve quality of life.

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