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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. 

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 allows patients to seek urgent advice closer to home, see this  Urgent Eyecare Service leaflet to find out more.

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

You can self-refer to this service by telephoning a participating practice of your choice.

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 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.

EED opening times – 7 days a week 08:00 – 20:00

Patients should be sent to MREH EED in the two scenarios below:

When to send patient to EED Process for primary care optometrists to follow
1. Where the presenting complaint falls under the red section of the ‘REFERRAL GUIDELINES FOR OCULAR PATHOLOGY IN GREATER MANCHESTER’ document located on the GM LOCs website within the Emergency eye referrals section for each CCG area

Where the presenting complaint falls into the red category of the guidelines table, you should send the patient straight to EED.

You do not need to call the department.

If you have referred the patient through on Opera, you should state in the free text field ‘I have sent the patient straight to EED.

MREH will not contact patients referred through on Opera, it is your responsibility to make sure they attend. You should explain to the patient why they must attend straight away and give them a referral letter or a print-out of the clinical observations you have put into Opera.

2.  After the patient case has been discussed with a clinician in the department (this includes via Opera). This is for cases where the presenting complaint does not fall into the red emergency section but you suspect the patient may still need some form of emergency care.

Optometrists can use the Opera EED option to seek advice on a patient, the EED team are able to respond with written advice to you via Opera.

If seeking advice – in the free text field please state ‘I am seeking advice on what to do with this patient’ then wait for feedback via Opera.

EED will send feedback directly on Opera, it is the responsibility of the optometrist to then follow up as instructed with the patient, which may include sending the patient to EED. The EED team will not contact the patient.

There is more detail on using the EED option in Opera below.

You will only receive feedback on Opera Mon-Fri 9:00-17:00. There will be no response over weekends and during bank holidays. Outside these hours you can call the department on 0161 701 0249 If the department advise you to send the patient to EED, send a referral on Opera and note that you have already contacted EED by phone. Please remember EED will not contact the patient, you must tell them to attend EED.

Community 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 patients arriving in our department undergo a clinical triage and in suitable cases we are streaming away from EED and directing patients to CUES.

If you are a CUES practice and do not have capacity to see a patient needing a CUES appointment, your practice is responsible for finding the patient an appointment from the local network of CUES practices.

Referring to MREH EED on Opera

  1. When the patient needs to access emergency care straight away:

Patients with presentations which fall into the red section of the ‘REFERRAL GUIDELINES FOR OCULAR PATHOLOGY IN GREATER MANCHESTER on the GM LOCs website should be sent straight to EED with a letter or a print out from Opera, you do not need to phone EED to inform the team you are sending someone to them.

In such cases MREH recognise, practices using Opera, will have used the system to refer to EED to evidence the end point the patient has been sent to. Please make it clear on referrals, at the top of the free text field that ‘the patient has been sent straight to EED’. It is the responsibility of the referring optometrist to ensure the patient goes straight to the department, the department do not contact patients who are referred to EED on Opera.

  1. When the patient may need to attend EED but guidance is needed

Primary care optometrists can use the MREH EED option on Opera to get advice on a patient who may need care in EED. Please make it clear on referrals, at the top of the free text field that ‘I am seeking advice to manage a patient.’

The query will be received into MREH’s EED electronic referral service (eRS) with advice sent back to Opera Monday-Friday 9:00-17:00. There will be no response over weekends and during bank holidays.  Outside these hours you can phone the department for advice on a patient – 0161 701 0249.  If the team advise you to send the patient to EED, make a note on the Opera referral that you have spoken to MREH EED.

All queries are answered as quickly as possible. If asking for advice, please wait for a response before sending the patient to us. The patient can leave the practice while seeking an opinion from EED, but tell the patient you or your practice 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, it is the referring optometrist’s responsibility to inform the patient; you or your practice colleagues should regularly check for a response. MREH EED will not contact the patient.

Directing patients to an emergency service

Ideally patients should be directed them to their nearest specialist emergency eyecare service or 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.