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Eye trauma is a common reason for emergency department visits. Eye complaints of a nontraumatic nature can also account for significant numbers of patients seeking care in the emergency department. Advanced practice nurses (APNs) are practicing in the emergency department in innovative ways to assess, diagnose, and manage eye complaints in adults and children. The APN scope of practice within the emergency department is continually expanding to encompass many functions that were formerly only within the purview of the physician. The purpose of this article is to discuss the innovations in advanced practice in the eye examination, namely the comprehensive assessment of a patient with an ophthalmologic emergency by an APN in the emergency department setting. A template for assessment and documentation will be provided to assist APNs in their approach to assessing and managing the eye emergency patient. Advanced practice nurses will be able to explore the chief complaint, describe the assessment findings, identify the differential diagnoses, choose the appropriate procedures, formulate a course of treatment, and finalize disposition for patients with eye emergencies.
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