Is it an emergency?

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Eye Emergencies during Coronavirus

During these unprecedented times, Manchester Royal Eye Hospital is working to manage our own patients safely while supporting the wider group of hospitals under Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust. The Eye Emergency Department (EED) is continuing to see emergency patients.

Scroll down to see ‘What counts as an emergency?’

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. This will also decide whether you should be isolated from other patients.

Urgent eye care in community optometry practices 

Patients can now access urgent free eye care at a local optometry practice. The COVID-19 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.

General public

It is important patients still come to the eye emergency department if they have had an accident or have an emergency. We can still help you and have put processes in place to reduce risk to patients and staff – expect to see our staff wearing protective equipment and clothing.

What counts as an emergency?

  • Chemical injury
  • Penetrating injury or eye lid laceration
  • Severe pain or loss of vision within 4 weeks of surgery or 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

We have made the unprecedented decision to temporarily suspend all upcoming routine outpatient appointments and routine operations in response to the exceptional situation with Coronavirus.

The NHS needs to use all its staff and resources away from routine care to support the increased need for critical care.

This may have affected you. You should not contact or visit the emergency department, they cannot provide outpatient services.

Please be assured that your case will be reviewed by our clinical teams to identify the most appropriate next steps for you. We will then contact you to let you know what will happen next; this may take some time depending on how the national situation develops.

For further information about the cancellation of outpatients appointments click here (



Optometrists should only refer patients in eyesight threatening cases; for your patients’ safety, for the safety of other patients and the safety of our NHS staff.

Eye emergencies are presentations that fall under the red and orange categories on the EED referral guidance table. This can be found here under the section ‘General urgent referrals.’

Please send patients to the correct unit for their CCG, Manchester Royal Eye Hospital will only see patients from the below CCGs – please note additional detail based on geographical location:

  • Manchester CCG
  • Trafford CCG
  • Tameside and Glossop CCG – for Glossop patients Stepping Hill Hospital may be closer to home, send patient to the closest unit.
  • Salford CCG – these patients can be seen at Bolton Eye Unit also – 01204 390 333 and within the Bolton A&E dept. Send the patient to the closest unit.

Optometrists should continue to follow guidance set out by The College of Optometrists and NHS England in relation to COVID-19. The confederation of Greater Manchester LOCs has set up a dedicated webpage under a new ‘Coronavirus’ section of their website –

It is critical that our Emergency Eye Department is able to help the patients who really need them. Many people visit the Emergency Eye Department when they could have been seen by a different healthcare professional. By finding the right person to talk to, you will get the most appropriate treatment.

Before going to A&E, think about whether you should visit:

  • A local optician – this can be a quick way of accessing help and advice. You often won’t need an appointment and you can speak to your optometrist in confidence.
  • A pharmacy – this can be a quick way of accessing medical help and advice as you don’t need an appointment and you can speak to your pharmacist in confidence.
  • Your GP – if it is a condition that your optician or pharmacist cannot treat, or for diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, prescriptions, medical examinations, and referral to specialist services, visit your GP.
  • A walk-in service – you do not need an appointment to visit an urgent care centre, minor injuries unit or walk-in centre.
  • Your local A&E department – each hospital in Greater Manchester where there is an A&E department will be able to diagnose and treat most eye conditions. Most departments will have ophthalmologists available to see to your eye’s specialist needs. A local A&E department will be easier to reach that the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital
If you’re not sure where to go, call NHS 111 for advice 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is free to call from landlines and mobiles.

Remember the Emergency Eye Department should only be used in extreme circumstances – if it is a sight threatening situation. If you access the Emergency Eye Department inappropriately, you may be turned away and directed to another service.

An emergency might include:

  • Sudden loss of vision
  • Sudden changes in vision
  • Painful eye or eyes