Is it an emergency?

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Just think, 111 first  

Call 111, free of charge from any phone, to be directed to a service locally that can best meet your needs. Many patients do not need to attend a hospital emergency department, 111 will guide you to an appropriate service. If they think you need to visit the Emergency Eye Department, they will organise for the department to contact you directly to make sure you get the care you need.

Call NHS 111 for advice 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

On this page you will find information:

  • If you are a patient
  • If you are an Optometrist or GP

Emergency Eye Department opening times:

08:00-20:00, 7 days a week

General Public

We are a very busy department; you should only attend in an emergency. We have listed what counts as an eye emergency below. For any other eye problem, you should call 111 who will be able to advise what you should do.

What is an eye emergency?

  • Chemical injury
  • Penetrating injury or eye lid laceration
  • Severe pain or loss of vision within 4 weeks of surgery or treatment injection
  • Sudden onset of double vision
  • Sudden loss of vision with pain
  • Sudden loss of vision without pain
  • Painful loss of vision if contact lenses normally worn
  • Pain or loss of vision after glaucoma drainage surgery or corneal transplant surgery at any time in the past
  • Severe eye lid swelling with fever and loss of vision or double vision
  • Eye pain keeping you awake at night


Are you already a patient at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital?  

If you have had cataract surgery at MREH or Withington Community Hospital in the past 4 weeks, or attended the eye emergency department 2 weeks, please call 0161 701 0249 to be connected to the EED reception team.

If you are currently under the care of an MREH specialist team and need to speak to someone about an existing eye problem, or recent surgery please refer to the Contact us page to find the specialist team you need.


Accessing an Emergency Department

Manchester Royal Eye Hospital Emergency Eye Department only see patients from the Manchester, Trafford, Salford, Tameside and Glossop areas of Greater Manchester.  If you live in the Salford area and live closer to the Royal Bolton Hospital, you are advised to attend Accident and Emergency there as the journey is likely to be easier.

If you do not live in one of these areas you should visit your nearest Accident and Emergency, they will have access to specialist eye doctors who can see you.


Community Urgent Eyecare Service

As a patient living in Greater Manchester you can now access urgent free eye care at a local optometry practice. The Community Urgent Eyecare Service has been launched to allow patients to seek urgent advice closer to home – CLICK HERE to find out more, including telephone numbers to access the service. You can self-refer to this service by telephoning a participating practice of your choice.

Alternatively CLICK HERE and use this website to find practices providing this service in a location that suits you.

Arriving at the Emergency Eye Department 

The department has changed how it is operating for everyone’s safety. Patients should present to Clinic A first; a nursing assessment will determine whether you need to be in the emergency eye department. You will also be asked COVID-19 screening questions to determine whether you should be isolated from other patients.

Optometrists and GPs 

If a patient within our catchment areas (see below) needs to be seen due to an eye or sight threatening emergency, they can be referred to our Emergency Eye Department (EED), please follow our advice below.

Patients should be sent to MREH EED only after the patient case has been discussed with a clinician in the department (this includes via Opera) or where the presenting complaint falls under the red section of the ‘Guidance on the Urgency of Referrals in GM’ document located on the GM LOCs website within the Emergency eye referrals section for each CCG area.

Optometrists who have referred a patient via Opera for an EED opinion should wait for feedback via Opera – more detail below.

Please give the patient a referral letter to take with them.


Urgent Eyecare Services (CUES)

If you are not providing CUES in your practice you should consider whether the CUES service could meet your patient’s needs, e.g. does this patient meet CUES suitability criteria? If so, please refer the patient onto CUES. You can use the information on the Primary Eyecare Service’s webpage to help your patient find a suitable optometrist 

Please be aware that in suitable cases we are directing patients to CUES.


EED opinion via Opera

As above, patients with presentations which fall into the red section of the ‘Guidance on the Urgency of Referrals in GM’ on the GM LOCs website should be sent straight to EED with a letter, not as a query via Opera.

If seeking an opinion via Opera, the referral will be received into MREH’s EED electronic referral service (eRS) and you should expect feedback Monday-Friday 9:00-17:00. Please be patient, we cannot review all queries instantly but work through them all as quickly as possible. Outside these hours you can phone the department for advice on a patient you suspect needs to be referred to EED.

If you have used the EED pathway to contact us for advice, please wait for a response before sending the patient to us. The patient can leave your practice while you seek an opinion from EED, but you should advise the patient you will contact them once a decision has been made by the hospital and before they attend EED. If EED advise a patient should attend the department is it your responsibility to inform the patient.

CUES Optometrists who previously used the dedicated CUES number to contact the department, this no longer in place, you should call the department on 0161 701 0249.  This is an updated number, but previous numbers you have will re-route you to the department.


Which CCGs we accept patients from

We only see patients in EED if they are the responsibility of Manchester, Trafford, Tameside and Glossop, and Salford CCGs. If your patient falls under Salford CCG and lives closer to the Royal Bolton Hospital, you should contact the Bolton Eye Unit or advise the patient to attend the Accident and Emergency department there, as the journey is likely to be easier.

We will see Wigan CCG patients out of hours only – this is after 17:00 on weekdays and at the weekends. Please note the MREH EED closes at 20:00, at which point Wigan patients with emergencies should be directed to their local accident and emergency. Monday – Friday up until 17:00 you should contact the WWL Eye Unit Urgent Referral Clinic for Wigan patients.

For Bolton and Wigan eye unit contact details, use the GM LOCs website where there is advice for emergency eye referrals for each area.

If your patient does not live in one of these areas you should direct them to their nearest Accident and Emergency department, where they will have access to Ophthalmologists. We recommend using the GM LOCs website to read the emergency referrals advice for the CCG areas across Greater Manchester. From this webpage, you should navigate to the LOC areas listed in orange on the left hand side of the page, select an LOC then the ‘referrals’ option for  the CCG area that your patient falls within, scroll down and choose ‘Emergency Eye referrals’ from options listed in blue rectangle boxes. Hospitals have different arrangements in place for you to refer to their emergency ophthalmic services.

Not sure which CCG your patients falls into? Find the postcode of their GP and use this handy look up tool to identify the CCG their practice come under.