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Eye emergency department

What is an eye emergency?

  • A chemical injury (make sure you immediately irrigate the eye with water for 15 to 20 minutes while making your way here)
  • Severe trauma such as a penetrating eye injury
  • Total loss of vision
  • Excruciating pain
  • Your eyelid is so swollen the eye cannot be seen at all.

If you have an eye emergency and Southampton is your nearest hospital, please come immediately to our department between;

  • 8am and 7pm, Monday to Friday
  • 8am and 7pm, Saturday and Sunday and Bank holidays

Outside of these hours, please attend the main hospital emergency department at Southampton General Hospital.

If you are unclear contact us on 023 8120 6592

Out of hours contact your GP or NHS 111

If your symptoms do not meet the guidance for an emergency as above, please contact the community urgent eye care service (CUES) on 0300 303 4922 from 9am - 5pm Monday to Saturday.

They will first assess you over the phone or via video call and then arrange a face to face booked appointment at an optician practice near you, as needed.

You may also consider seeing your GP or own optician.

If Southampton General Hospital is not your local NHS hospital, you should always contact your local hospital first, unless you have been told otherwise. Many other NHS Trusts within Hampshire also have on-call specialist eye doctors available for eye emergencies. If you attend the main emergency department of one of these hospitals they will contact that team as needed

About us

Our emergency eye department (eye casualty) is a specialist emergency department which gives priority to serious emergency sight and eye conditions including trauma.

We are based at Southampton General Hospital and treat over 25,000 patients a year. We are a major regional centre and the biggest in the south-east of England, so there may be a significant wait to see a clinician. Many patients have highly complex conditions and may have been referred by other specialists.

We see people in clinical priority order, this means seeing the most serious cases first and so may not be in order of time of arrival.

The eye casualty department is not a walk in clinic

If you are unsure or if you do not meet the criteria of an eye emergency, you are required to call our telephone triage line (023 8120 6592) which is available 8am to 7.30pm weekdays, and 8am to 6pm on weekends and bank holidays.

We will advise as to whether you need to attend our department or if we can help you over the phone.

If you have an urgent eye problem outside of these hours, please contact your GP to access their out of hour’s service or call 111 for further advice. An ophthalmologist is on call at Southampton General Hospital in case of an emergency.

If your nearest general hospital is Queen Alexandra Portsmouth, Winchester, Salisbury, Frimley Park, Basingstoke, Bournemouth, Guildford or in London, you should contact your local hospital first as they have emergency departments. Many also have on-call specialist eye doctors available for emergencies 24 hours a day.

Opening hours

If you have an eye emergency, please come immediately to our department between

  • 8am and 7pm, Monday to Friday
  • 8am and 7pm, Saturday and Sunday

Outside of these hours, please attend the main hospital emergency department (casualty) at Southampton General Hospital.

What happens when I come in?

Find out what happens when you visit the eye emergency department.

Please note that you should not drive yourself to the hospital as many of our patients are given eye drops which can affect your vision. If you are given these you will not be able to drive home.

CUES: community urgent eyecare service

CUES is now the first port of call for most patients seeking non-emergency but urgent eye care. CUES gives you get a booked appointment near where you live

To make an appointment with CUES telephone 0300 303 4922 from 9am to 5pm Mon-Sat otherwise use one of the options explained above.

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You should not use CUES if you have recently had eye surgery. Please call us if you are unsure if the service is suitable for you.

CUES sees many conditions including and not confined to:

  • dry, gritty, irritable and uncomfortable eyes
  • foreign bodies in the eye
  • Inflammation of the eye
  • red eye or sore eyelids
  • ingrowing eyelashes
  • significant recent sticky discharge from the eye or watery discharge
  • recent and sudden changes in vision including flashes or floaters.

Find us

If you need to visit eye casualty or the eye unit, please park in the blue car park at Southampton General.

The department is located behind Ronald McDonald House, at the bottom of the ambulance slope. There is also a pick up and drop off point located outside the eye unit.

Contact us

Call us on 023 8120 6592.