Emergency Eye Service


Our Emergency Eye Service is here to deliver care to people with urgent or sight-threatening problems.

The service is 9am- 5pm, Monday to Saturday, and is located in the West of England Eye Unit.

Please note we are not a walk-in service. You can be referred into this service if appropriate via your Optometrist, GP, NHS 111, the Emergency Department (ED), or Minor Injuries Unit (MIU).

If you have sustained a chemical injury, severe trauma, have severe eye pain (with nausea, headache and reduced vision), or have lost vision within the last 4 hours - attend the emergency department without delay.

More on what we do

What is an Eye Emergency?

  • A chemical Injury
  • Severe trauma to the eye with possible penetrating injury
  • Loss of vision within the last four hours
  • Severe eye pain associated with reduced vision, headache, and nausea

If you have any of these, attend the Emergency Department without delay.

Urgent problems which can be seen 9am-5pm include

  • Red, painful, eyes – particularly in contact lens wear
  • Minor injuries to the eye, or something in the eye such as metal
  • Sudden deterioration of vision with no other symptoms
  • Shadows or ‘curtaining’ in the field of vision which is painless but may be associated with flashing lights or an increase in black spots (Floaters)

If your eye problem is over two weeks old, please discuss with your GP or Optometrist who may be able to refer you directly to the appropriate clinic.

If you are uncertain about the urgency of your eye problem, you can discuss it with either a GP, optometrist, the NHS 111 service, your local Minor Injuries Unit (MIU).


After registering at the Emergency Department reception, you will usually have a brief assessment by the triage nurse who will allocate you a triage category which determines your urgency to be seen. Triage may also refer you to doctors within the Emergency Department or other service if this is more appropriate for your condition.

There are four triage categories: 1 is the most urgent, for patients in need of immediate treatment for preservation of life; 4 is the least urgent, for those in no immediate danger of loss of life or sight. This is to ensure that emergencies are not delayed and means you will be seen in priority order, not time order.

Our team

This is a Specialist Practitioner-led service, consisting of Optometrists and Nurse Practitioners. We aim to see and treat a wide variety of eye conditions.

However, if further investigation is required by the Ophthalmologist, an appointment may be made for you. This could be later the same day, or a different day, depending on the urgency of your eye condition.

Where to find us

RD&E Wonford, Barrack Rd, Exeter EX2 5DW

West of England Eye Unit

Contact us

If you are a healthcare professional and require emergency advice, or a patient who has had eye surgery or an eye injection within the last six weeks and require emergency advice, please call the RDE switchboard on 01392 411611 who can transfer you to the triage team.

If you are a patient who has been seen and treated for iritis by us in the past, and feel you are having another episode, please contact us via e-mail on rde-tr.exeteriritis@nhs.net and a member of the Eye Casualty team will call you back. Please include your name, date of birth, hospital number, and contact number in your message.


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