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Research Letter
September 14, 2017

Epidemiology of Conjunctivitis in US Emergency Departments

Author Affiliations
  • 1Currently a medical student, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
  • 2Francis I. Proctor Foundation, University of California, San Francisco
  • 3Department of Ophthalmology, University of California, San Francisco
  • 4Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco
JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online September 14, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2017.3319

Conjunctivitis is the most common ocular condition diagnosed in US emergency departments (EDs), accounting for almost one-third of all eye-related encounters.1 Because of its generally nonemergent nature, understanding the burden and timing of conjunctivitis may allow preemptive triage to a less expensive health care setting.

The National Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) is a population-based data set consisting of a stratified sample of 20% of US hospital-based EDs. National estimates are extrapolated using poststratification weights.2 We calculated national estimates of encounters with a primary diagnosis of acute conjunctivitis from January 1, 2010, through December 31, 2013, stratified by age, sex, and calendar month. Analysis of this public deidentified data set did not meet the institutional review board at University of California, San Francisco's definition of human subject research and therefore did not require ethical approval or informed consent. We estimated the incidence of conjunctivitis diagnosed in the ED by using population figures obtained from the 2010 US decennial census as the denominator. We implemented the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test and the Edwards test3 to compare age-incidence curves and seasonality, respectively, with P < .05 indicating statistical significance. We used R software, version 3.3.1 (survey and zoo packages; https://cran.r-project.org) for analyses performed from January 15 to March 30, 2017.

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