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Eye emergencies

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What is an eye emergency?

  • Chemical liquids splashed in the eye.
  • An injury to the eye in which the eye ball or lids are lacerated or objects enter the eye, such as sharp instruments or metal.
  • A suddenly blind and painful eye which causes sickness and general feeling of being unwell.
  • After an eye operation, a suddenly painful, red, swollen eye in which the vision has unexpectedly deteriorated.
  • Patients following corneal graft surgery in which there is no pain, but for whom vision has rapidly deteriorated.
  • Shadows or 'curtaining' in the field of vision which is painless but may be associated with flashing lights or an increase in seeing black specks or blobs (floaters).
  • A red and painful eye associated with wearing contact lenses.
  • Painful eyes.
  • Sudden loss of vision with no other symptoms.

What is not an eye emergency?

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Walk-in emergency service

Patients with urgent eye symptoms can walk-in, preferably with a referral letter to provide us with more clinical information.

Please note: this is not a 'first come, first serve' service: patients are triaged and the most serious cases are seen first.

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Opening hours for walk-in service

  • Monday to Friday: 8.30am - 4.30pm
  • Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays: 8.30am - 3.30pm
  • Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year: closed, with on-call service

If you have an urgent eye problem outside these hours, please contact your out-of-hours GP or dial 111.

GPs are able to discuss the need for urgent review with our on-call Ophthalmologist through the JR switchboard: 0300 304 7777

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Find us and contact us

Please come to the Oxford Eye Hospital at the John Radcliffe Hospital (West Wing entrance, up the escalator and turn right).

  • Eye emergencies (24 hours): 01865 234567

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Oxfordshire Minor Eye Conditions Service (MECS)

This free NHS service is available to people aged more than six years in Oxfordshire and registered with an Oxfordshire GP.

Conditions treated include:

  • dry, gritty, irritable and uncomfortable eyes
  • foreign body in the eye
  • red eye or eyelids
  • ingrowing eyelashes
  • watery discharge
  • recent and sudden changes in vision.

Contact a MECS registered optician in your area, who will assess how quickly you need to be seen by the service.

MECS registered opticians are listed here: www.oxfordshireloc.org.uk/public/minor

This service is not for major eye conditions such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma, but can refer patients to other services if necessary or urgent.

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