Sunderland Eye Infirmary Emergency Department

We are a specialist eye Emergency Department (ED) and we aim to provide a first class service to people who have eye emergencies.

We are a specialist eye emergency department (ED) and we aim to provide a first class service to people who have eye emergencies.

Please note that we are not a general ED and can only help with eye conditions

Our ED is not a "walk-in" clinic. If your eye problem is not an emergency you should see your optician or GP who will refer you to one of our specialist clinics if necessary.

ED is not for second opinions, repeat prescriptions or non-urgent problems such as dry eyes, itchy eyes, hay fever and cataracts.

If you need a repeat prescription please see your GP. We are unable to issue repeat prescriptions at ED.

Sunderland Eye Infirmary Emergency Department (ED) is part of the Ophthalmology department.

The ED of the Sunderland Eye Infirmary provides emergency ophthalmic services 24/7 for approximately 33,000+ patients per year both adults and children. These include trauma and non-trauma patients. All patients will be triaged on presentation. Patients will be seen by either an experienced ophthalmic nurse practitioner for further assessment and treatment. We provide care for the population of Sunderland and the surrounding districts of North Durham, Hartlepool and South Tyneside. Non-emergency eye care can be provided by other services which are explained below.

Sunderland Eye Infirmary

Queen Alexandra Road



0191 5699951

The Eye ED is located on the ground floor and can be accessed via the main door marked ‘Accident and Emergency’ from 7am - 8pm. Overnight all doors are locked for security but ED can be accessed by pressing the bell located next to Main Entrance – Outpatients B, the porters will open the door for you.

Sunderland Eye Infirmary 0191 5699951

Why do I have to wait?

Many people use the services of ED at the Eye Infirmary and after triage patients are seen in order of priority by nurse practitioners and doctors. Some of the more complex cases can take a lot of time to assess.There is an experienced nurse monitoring the waiting times and taking steps to reduce them if they become very lengthy.

After 5pm and weekends the nursing staff dispense all medication for the patients to take home, so this can add to the wait.

We aim to see and treat everyone within four hours but this is not always possible and staff will advise if the wait is likely to be longer

What should I bring if I need to come to the Eye ED?

You should bring the medicines that you take, including medicines you buy over the counter.If you have a recent prescription, please bring that too.This helps us to know what you are taking and whether it causes problems with any treatment we might suggest.

It may be necessary to dilate your pupils with drops for examination, you will be unable to drive for 4-6 hours in this case, please organise transport to bring you to the Eye ED

Out of hours

Although ED at the Eye Infirmary is open 24 hours, many of the other services at the Eye Infirmary are only available Monday –Friday, this means that ED cannot access those services out of hours, they include:-

  • Photography
  • Orthoptic Assessment
  • Optometry
  • Pharmacy for repeat prescriptions
  • Certain Blood tests

If you need any of these services arrangements will be made to have them as soon as possible

If you require Urgent CT or MRI scan you would need to be transferred to Sunderland Royal Hospital

Choosing the right services at the right time

Eye ED isn’t always the best place to go. You may get more appropriate and faster treatment elsewhere.

If you or a member of your family experiences eye symptoms or injury, choosing the right NHS service can help you get on the road to recovery in no time.

So, what are the options?

Self care

Sometimes the best person to take care of you is yourself or a family member.

Simple eye infection

One of the most common eye ailments is conjunctivitis (simple eye infection). Symptoms include a combination of one or more of the following: a red eye, gritty sensation, crusted lashes or yellow/green discharge, swollen lids. The infection is mostly viral, in which case no treatment is required and it will resolve as would a head cold. Chloramphenicol antibiotic drops can help for some eye infections and are available from pharmacy who can advise. You should not use the drops if you have a known allergy to them .

Antihistamine drops

These are useful for allergic conjunctivitis. Symptoms include itchy, red, watering eyes.


Pharmacists can advise on common eye infections and simple allergies.

You can talk to your pharmacist in confidence and you don’t need an appointment. Most pharmacies now have a quiet consultation area where patients can discuss health problems in privacy.

Your GP

If your pharmacist is unable to deal with your eye condition or it doesn’t get better after a few days, your GP can help. They provide a range of services by appointment, including medical advice, examinations and prescriptions.


Optometrists are used to examining eyes and can offer examination/reassurance/appropriate referral to eye services for a range of eye conditions. These include:

  • Gradual reduction in vision
  • Contact lens related problems
  • A change in your spectacle prescription.

NHS 111

You should use the NHS 111 service if you urgently need medical help or advice but it's not a life-threatening situation.

Call 111 if:

  • you need medical help fast but it's not a 999 emergency
  • you think you need to go to an Eye ED or need another NHS urgent care service
  • you don't know who to call or you don't have a GP to call
  • you need health information or reassurance about what to do next

Eye ED 999

Emergency services are always busy but this is particularly true during the winter.

You should only attend Eye ED if you have a a sudden loss of vision – painless/painful, a traumatic eye injury, a chemical injury or if you have been advised to go there by NHS 111, your GP or a Pharmacist.

Take some time to find out more about the variety of healthcare services that are available to you and your family and what they can offer. Remember, 999 and ED services are for people with very serious injuries, illnesses and emergencies.

Sunderland Royal Hospital

Kayll Road, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, SR4 7TP

Tel: 0191 565 6256

View on a map | Parking and directions

Sunderland Eye Infirmary

Queen Alexandra Road, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, SR2 9HP

Tel: 0191 565 6256

View on a map | Parking and direction