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If any of the following are present or suspected, please refer the patient to the emergency department (via ambulance if necessary) or follow local emergency care protocols or seek emergent medical advice if in a remote region.

NB - in an emergency of any of the following, its advised to arrange immediate transfer to the emergency department.


Retinal artery occulsion

  • Patients with central or branch retinal artery occlusion


  • Congenital glaucoma e.g. big eye/s, cloudy cornea, photosensitive, tearing
  • Angle closure glaucoma (unilateral red eye associated with pain, nausea, loss of vision, photophobia, steamy cornea, hard tender globe, ‘rainbows’ around lights, or sluggish pupil reactions)
  • Patients with IOP >35mmHg

Adult/paediatric strabismus

  • Sudden onset of any of the following:
    • constant convergent squint (esotropia) or
    • divergent squint (exotropia) or
    • double vision at any age

Other referrals to emergency

  • Sudden severe visual loss e.g. macular or vitreous haemorrhage, retinal detachment or retinal artery occlusion
  • Rubeosis iridis (iris new vessels)
  • Corneal graft rejection
  • Contact lens keratitis, corneal ulcers
  • Uveitis/scleritis
  • Intra ocular pressure (IOP) > 35 mmHg
  • Signs and/or symptoms of retinal detachment
  • Acute injury e.g. trauma, burns, chemical exposure, foreign body
  • Acutely inflamed eye
  • Preseptal/orbital cellulitis - worsening eyelid oedema, erythema and proptosis
  • Ocular signs or symptoms of temporal arteritis
  • Ophthalmology conditions associated with sudden onset neurological signs and/or symptoms e.g. third cranial nerve palsy or optic disc swelling



  • White red reflex (refer directly by telephone to the on-call ophthalmology registrar)

Anisocoria (unequal pupil size)

  • If acute onset and associated with neurological signs

Chalazion/meibomian cyst

  • Chalazion with an abscess

Reduced visual acuity

  • Sudden severe vision loss in a child

Elevated optic nerve head

  • If neurological anomaly signs (vomiting, abnormal pupils, severe headache)
  • If Retinal haemorrhages or exudates




Please note this is not an exhaustive list of all conditions for outpatient services and does not exclude consideration for referral unless specifically stipulated in the CPC out of scope section. 

The following are not routinely provided in a public Ophthalmology service.

  • Cataract (patients with best corrected visual acuity in the affected eye of 6/12 or better will not be accepted unless clinical modifiers apply (see general referral information section)
  • Diabetic retinopathy (routine referral for screening and patients with only mild non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy will not be accepted unless in those HHSs without primary photoscreening or optometrist)
  • Age related macular degeneration (AMD) (dry AMD is not routinely seen unless the practitioner is concerned about progression to wet AMD)
  • Glaucoma (patients with ocular hypertension with IOP less than28mmHg and no other signs or risk factors for glaucoma will not be accepted)
  • Pterygium (pterygium less than 3mm from limbus to apex will not be accepted)
  • Lid lesions (patients with minor cosmetic eyelid lesions should not be referred)
  • Refractive error - (prescription of spectacles) in patients older than 12 years
  • Mild dry eyes
  • Mild ptosis