What to do if you think you have an eye emergency?

If you have a problem requiring urgent care during our normal opening hours (Monday-Saturday, 9am to 5pm) then please call your nearest Leightons practice in the first instance. Outside of these hours, please contact NHS 111.

Do not make an online booking.

What is an eye emergency?

Most eye tests take place routinely, and as well as measuring the focus and advising on glasses, the health of the eyes are examined to identify anything that is obviously out of the ordinary.

Occasionally, eye health problems may need more urgent attention or emergency care. These can include symptoms such as:

  • - Sudden pain in or around the eye
  • - Sudden changes in vision, including new flashes, floating spots or strands
  • - Distorted vision
  • - Sudden loss of vision
  • - Sudden onset double vision
  • - Painful red eye with sensitivity to bright lights
  • - Contact lens wearer with painful red eye that does not resolve after lens removal
  • - Injury or trauma to the eye

What not to do with an eye emergency?

If you're experiencing an eye emergency, it's important not to try to treat it yourself. Seek help from a professional like the Leightons team. Although you may be tempted, please:

  • - Do not rub or apply pressure to the eye.
  • - Do not use any tools like tweezers near your eye.
  • - Do not use any medication or ointments unless instructed by a healthcare provider.
  • - Do not try to remove any foreign objects from your eye.

How to avoid eye emergencies?

While not all eye emergencies can be prevented, having regular eye tests can help identify and address potential issues before they become emergencies. At Leightons, our expert optometrists can detect and address vision problems, eye diseases, and other conditions that could lead to an emergency situation.

We recommend an eye test at least every two years, or as often as your optometrist recommends, based on your individual eye health and risk factors.

Care plans for complete peace of mind

Couple rowing a boat.

Our MyLeightons Care Plans offer total peace of mind for just £12 a month, or £20 a month for our family plan.

As well as exclusive discounts and money-saving offers, it includes your routine Ultimate Eye Examination and access to optometrists when new symptoms arise for urgent or planned care, such as dry eye therapy. With contact lens and hearing care benefits available too, why not join today?

Learn more about MyLeightons

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens at an emergency eye appointment?

When you first contact us, one of our team will ask several triage questions to ensure you receive the most appropriate advice from a registered professional within a suitable timeframe.

Provided a nearby Leightons practice has an emergency eye clinic time slot available, we will book you an appointment with an optometrist either on the same day or within 72 hours, depending on the symptoms presented.

In some situations, we may recommend you go straight to eye casualty at a local NHS hospital, or A&E for out-of-hours services. We may also refer you directly to A&E during your appointment.

Can I just turn up with an eye emergency?

While you're welcome to visit one of our branches, we recommend calling Leightons or 111 first. This allows us to assess your situation, provide guidance, and ensure you receive the appropriate care as quickly as possible.

Will I be charged for an emergency eye appointment?

Please be aware that in England, the NHS sight test has strict rules on eligibility. It is not normal for eye emergencies to fall within an NHS sight test claim, and there is a variation in whether eye health services are NHS-commissioned according to where you live. We can however offer our private eye emergency triage and consultations across all locations in our branch network depending on diary availability.

Where private charges apply, you will be made aware of these prior to booking your emergency appointment. You can then choose to continue with the private appointment, or instead opt to use an alternative local NHS service.

Can you go to A&E for eye problems?

In some cases, Leightons may recommend visiting your local A&E department for more serious eye emergencies. However, it's best to contact us first, as we can often provide the necessary care and treatment right away, or guide you to the most appropriate healthcare provider.