What happens when I come in?
The eye emergency department is a specialist emergency department for urgent sight problems and eye treatment.
When you arrive, please book in at reception. You will be asked for your name, date of birth, address, GP details and what your eye problem is.
Click on the sections below to find out more about what happens at the eye emergency department.
A nurse or health care assistant will check your vision by covering each eye and asking you to read letters from a chart. Your distance vision will also be checked. You must bring any glasses you wear for driving or watching television.
We will ask you about your eye condition and details on your general health. Please tell us about any allergies and any medication you are currently taking. If you have already purchased or been prescribed medication for your eyes you should bring it with you.
We will probably ask you take out your contact lenses. Please bring spare glasses with you to wear after your assessment.
Do not drive yourself to the hospital. Many patients are given eye drops which dilate the pupils and blur the vision for a few hours. If you are given these, you will not be able to drive home.
Following your initial vision check, a triage nurse will ask you more questions regarding your eye complaint. You will then be allocated to a doctor or nurse specialist. The estimated waiting time will be displayed on the information board in the waiting room.
If they decide you do not need emergency care, they will advise you on services in the community which may be more appropriate.
Your eye will be examined using a microscope with a light attachment, similar to those used at opticians. You may also be given eye drops to show scratches or marks on the front of the eyes or local anaesthetic drops.
If we need to examine the retina, eye drops will be used to dilate your pupils. These take about 15 minutes to work and can affect your vision for about six hours. If it is a sunny day, you may need to bring sunglasses with you for comfort. You will not be able to drive home.
If your eye needs to be examined by a senior doctor, you may be asked to wait. Your nurse or doctor will tell you how long your wait is likely to be.
The doctor or nurse will discuss your eye condition with you and offer advice about any treatment you may need. You may be given a prescription for eye medication or a supply of eye drops. For some conditions, you will be advised to buy eye drops or other medication at a local pharmacy as it will be cheaper.
A few patients may need immediate or urgent treatment such as medication or laser treatment before they go home. You will be given a full explanation and will have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.
Some patients may need to be referred to a consultant (ophthalmologist) for further examination, ongoing treatment or surgery. If this is required, you will have a letter sent to your home address.
If you need a follow-up appointment, you will need to make this at the reception before you leave. The time we give you is your booking-in time. Emergency patients will be given priority so you may be asked to wait.
Patients who need to attend a consultant-led clinic will be referred by the nurse or doctor and will receive a letter with an appointment in our outpatient department. If you live outside the area, we will usually contact your GP and ask you to contact them to arrange a follow-up appointment.
Your GP will receive a letter after your visit with information of the diagnosis and initial treatment given to you.
You will be given a prescription for up to one month's supply of eye drops or medication. If you are likely to need more than this, you can get repeat prescriptions from your GP.
If you are not entitled to free prescriptions you will be charged for each item. If you need more than four prescription items in three months or 14 items in 12 months, you could save money by buying a prescription payment certificate (PPC).
What to do if your eye doesn’t improve
Please phone the eye casualty on 023 8120 6592 for advice. We may ask you to attend the department or advise you to see your GP.