More than 10% of pediatricians who completed a questionnaire on red eye disease diagnosis and treatment were not able to identify viral conjunctivitis as the most common cause or prescribe appropriate first-line, evidence-based treatment in accordance with the pediatric literature, according to a study published BMC Ophthalmology. Clinicians who were younger and had practiced for a fewer number of years were more likely to make the proper diagnosis and select the appropriate treatment options, the report shows.
The correlational quantitative investigation included questionnaire responses from 152 pediatricians who practiced for a mean 14.77 years (65.8% women, mean age, 45.8 years). The assessment tool evaluated the clinicians’ knowledge, attitudes, and experience in treating red eyes in the pediatric population.
The pediatricians’ knowledge levels were determined to be moderate, according to the report. Most respondents (89.5%) knew that red eyes and discharge frequently indicate viral conjunctivitis and that pain, blurred vision, and corneal clouding, are likely symptoms of a more complex systemic problem.
A total of 78.3% of participants identified conservative treatment, including eye flushing and strict hygiene, as the appropriate initial treatment for viral conjunctivitis. However, 14.5% (n=22) reported prescribing antibiotics. Among the respondents, 71.7% reported they would refer a child with a red eye involving disrupted or blurred vision to an ophthalmologist.
The report shows a negative association between the pediatrician’s age and experience, and knowledge concerning treatment of children with a red eye. While younger clinicians with fewer years in practice tended to demonstrate greater diagnostic and treatment knowledge for pediatric red eye disease, these individuals were more likely to report not receiving the necessary tools for treating pediatric eye disorders during their residency. Overall, 56% of respondents claimed they did not receive these necessary tools during residency.
Pediatrician’s knowledge levels strongly correlated with their attitudes to performing eye tests and the number of cases in which they prescribed antibiotics for children with a red eye.
“[I]t is necessary to verify that pediatricians receive appropriate tools for treating eye disorders in children and that their knowledge on red eye is refreshed, particularly in the case of more experienced pediatricians,” according to the study authors.
Study limitations include a small sample size, convenience sampling, and the possibility of response bias (76%).
Mostovoy D, Bunin A, Eyni Y, Natan MB. Pediatricians’ knowledge, attitude and practice on treating children with red eye disease. BMC Ophthalmol. Published online February 13, 2023. doi:10.1186/s12886-022-02755-7