The management of ocular allergy in community pharmacies in the United Kingdom


Background Ocular allergies frequently present in pharmacy practices. However, research into the actual management of ocular allergy in pharmacies is lacking. Objective To determine and quantify history and symptom questioning of a patient with presumed allergic conjunctivitis and management strategies employed by pharmacy staff in the UK. Method A mystery shopper technique was used to simulate an episode of allergic conjunctivitis in 100 community pharmacies across the UK. Results The mean number of questions asked by pharmacy staff to the patient was 3.5 ± 2.6, with a range of 0–10. The most common question was whether the patient had a history of allergies (45 %).Ninety-one percent advised on treatment, with the remaining 9 % directly referring to the patient’s general practitioner (n = 4) or pharmacist(n = 4), but only two to their optometrist. The most common treatment suggested was sodium cromoglycate 2 % (50 %). However, many pharmacies advising treatment did not ask the patient’s age (37 %), if they wore contact lenses (43 %), or gave dosage advice (43 %). Only 5 % of pharmacies advised follow up and 14 % suggested visiting a general practitioner and 1 % an optometrist if symptoms did not resolve with treatment. Conclusion There is a need for improved ophthalmological training for pharmacy staff with respect to the management of allergic conjunctivitis.

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The authors have no financial or commercial conflicts of interest relating to this study.

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Correspondence to James S. Wolffsohn.

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Bilkhu, P., Wolffsohn, J.S., Taylor, D. et al. The management of ocular allergy in community pharmacies in the United Kingdom. Int J Clin Pharm 35, 190–194 (2013).

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  • Allergic conjunctivitis
  • Community pharmacy
  • Counselling
  • Mystery shopper
  • Ocular allergy
  • United Kingdom