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CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
1. Conjunctivitis is the most common
cause of red eyes. Which of the
statements below MOST appropriately
describes symptoms of conjunctivitis?
a) Viral conjunctivitis usually causes a gritty
feeling and mild itching, and watery
b) Allergic conjunctivitis usually causes
itching, and the patient’s eyes are glued
together in the morning.
c) Irritant conjunctivitis usually causes
discomfort and no discharge.
d) Bacterial conjunctivitis usually causes a
gritty or burning feeling, and is commonly
experienced when the patient has an
upper respiratory tract infection.
2. A 23-year-old man comes into your
pharmacy and says that his left eye
feels slightly dry. He wears contact
lenses, and has no other symptoms.
What is the MOST appropriate first-
line advice to give him?
a) Advise him to see a doctor or
optometrist today or tomorrow.
b) Advise him to reduce the time he wears
his lenses and use some preservative-
free lubricant eye drops that are suitable
for use with contact lenses.
c) Advise him to stop wearing his contact
lenses, use some chloramphenicol eye
drops and see his doctor if his eye has
not improved in 48 hours.
d) None of the above.
3. Which of the following statements
about dry eyes is CORRECT?
a) Dry eye syndrome is a common condition,
especially seen in people over 40.
b) Insufficient tear production is a cause
of dry eye.
c) Anticholinergic medicines can impair
aqueous humour production in the eye.
d) All of the above.
4. An elderly lady comes into your
pharmacy to ask your advice about her
red eye. She says she feels as if there
is something in her eye, and upon
examination of the eye, visible foreign
particles can be seen which are not
able to be washed out. What is the
MOST appropriate advice to give her?
a) Advise her to use an antihistamine
eye drop as she may have allergic
b) Advise her to see her doctor.
c) Advise her to try some lubricant
eye drops every day, as dry eyes are
common in elderly women.
d) Advise her that no treatment is necessary.
COUNSELLING IN PRACTICE
KEY LEARNING POINTS
Red eye is a sign of ocular
inflammation that is commonly
caused by conjunctivitis and
Dry eye syndrome is a common
condition that can be due to multiple
reasons, including decreased tear
production or increased evaporation
of tears. Symptoms can include
dryness and irritation.
Urgent referral is needed for potentially
serious eye problems, and pharmacists
should be aware of symptoms
suggestive of more serious pathology.
Annette’s red eyes
Annette’s eyes appear generally red.
On examination, you notice that her
eyelids or conjunctivae are not swollen
and her pupils appear normal. She does
not wear contact lenses. She has not
experienced these symptoms before.
It is important to ask Annette to
describe the pain she is experiencing.
Patients may describe the feeling of
grittiness as pain. If Annette’s pain is
severe, she should be referred to a
doctor immediately. Annette confirms
that her eyes feel gritty rather than
painful. She says they do not feel as if
there is anything in her eye, possibly
excluding irritant conjunctivitis as the
cause of her eye symptoms.
Annette has described her eye discharge
as watery. Viral, allergic and irritant
conjunctivitis are all associated with
this type of discharge. As bacterial
conjunctivitis is associated with
mucopurulent discharge, it is unlikely
that Annette has bacterial conjunctivitis.
Annette also says her eye is not itchy
and she has no history of allergies.
Based on Annette’s sign and symptoms,
she most likely has viral conjunctivitis.
She should be advised that this is a
self-limiting condition, and that she
does not need antibiotic eye drops.
She can be supplied with lubricant eyes
drops to provide some symptomatic
relief. As viral conjunctivitis is very
contagious, Annette should also be
reminded to wash her hands frequently
and not to share towels, in an attempt to
reduce the spread of the virus. She will
remain contagious until the redness
and weeping subsides, which is usually
It should be suggested
that she stay away from work until any
discharge stops to avoid spreading the
infection in her workplace.
You provide her with a Red and dry eyes
PSA Self Care Fact Card, and encourage
her to return to the pharmacy if her
symptoms have not improved in 2–5 days.
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