Urgent alert:

There is no walk-in facility for eye emergencies at Aintree University Hospital or South Liverpool Treatment Centre. There is a facility called Ophthalmology Acute Referral Service at Aintree, which can handle urgent referrals (from GPs and opticians and from the main ED), but it is not a walk-in centre.

This is a very busy emergency service, for true emergencies, such as eye trauma, sudden loss of sight, painful red eye. It is not for long term eye conditions. 

Located on the Lower Ground of the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, the Emergency Eye Clinic is open every day 9am - 8pm. Patients are advised to arrive by 5pm to allow for time to be assessed and avoid being asked to return to the clinic the next day. 

Outside of operating hours, patients with an emergency eye condition may attend the main Emergency Department. Patients might then be sent on to an on call eye doctor (an ophthalmologist) or asked to attend St Paul's Emergency Eye Department the following day.

Patients can attend without an appointment. Our highly trained and experienced nursing, medical and optometry colleagues may triage your case (determining its urgency) and suggest you come back another time or go to another place (GP or optician, for example) for assessment and referral.

Although the Trust and St Paul’s try to treat and discharge all patients within the government target of four hours, on some days the service is so overwhelmed with patients that it cannot, so that waiting times can be several hours. You can help minimise this and make sure that people in true need of emergency care do get it on time by only attending if you really need to.

Please note that more serious cases will be prioritised, and that at busy times you may have to wait to see a nurse or doctor.

The entrance to the department is behind the main escalator. If entering at the main entrance off Prescot Street, the department is down the escalator. If entering from the University West Derby Street side, then you are on the lower ground floor already.

Conditions St Paul's Emergency Eye Department treat

  1. Eye trauma – scratches, foreign bodies, sports and industrial accidents, assaults
  2. Painful red eye - pain is subjective, but it means pain that is more than irritation, grittiness
  3. Sudden loss of vision - People often experience minor changes in sight, but if your sight suddenly (in a matter of minutes, hours or a few days) goes blank or so blurred that you cannot read with glasses or recognise faces, then you may have a serious problem that requires urgent assessment. Often an optician (also known as an optometrist, who is not an ophthalmologist) can identify the problem and give the right advice. Gradual sight deterioration over weeks or months – visit your optician.

If your problem has been going on for several weeks or even months, then you should see an optician or your GP.

Conditions that can be treated by community services

  1. Red, stick eye with discharge, sometimes with a cold-like illness, may be conjunctivitis. You could see a chemist (a pharmacist) who may be able to supply you with antibiotic eye drops without a prescription.
  2. A gritty, intermittently red, and watery eye is often due to blepharitis or a dry eye condition. Bathe and massage the eyelid margins with warm water in something soft like a cotton wool ball and get an antibiotic drop and an artificial tear drop from a chemist.
  3. Contact lens problems.
    • A painful red eye with deterioration in sight in a contact lens wearer is usually an emergency.  If you can remove your contact lens then do so, but do not throw it (or the lens case) away – we may be able to send it to the lab and help identify if there is any infection.
    • Intermittent gritty red eye in a contact lens wearer – stop using the lens and see your contact lens supplying optician.