You will be referred to an ophthalmologist at an outpatient clinic at your local hospital if your optometrist finds any signs in your eyes which they think need further investigation. You may find the following information useful if you are due to go to the ophthalmology department for an appointment.

Preparing for your visit

It is a good idea to do some preparation to ensure that the time you spend with the ophthalmologist is as useful as possible.

If English is not your first language, you should let the clinic know. They can arrange for an interpreter to be present, including a sign interpreter if you use sign language.

You should take your current glasses with you as the staff may need to see them. A list of any medication that you are taking at the moment may also be useful.

It is easy to forget what the ophthalmologist says and the questions you want to ask. Making a note of any questions that you have and taking it with you can help you to remember. It's a good idea to use a black felt tip pen to write these questions out, as your vision may be blurry from the drops used to examine your eyes.

You can find out about the hospital in England on the NHS Choices website, in Wales on NHS Direct Wales website, in Scotland on the NHS 24 website or in Northern Ireland on the Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland website.

Questions to ask

The following may be useful questions to ask the ophthalmologist:

  • What is my condition called?
  • What causes the condition?
  • What will happen to my sight in future?
  • Will it get worse?
  • What treatments are available?
  • What, if any, are the complications of treatment?
  • Will treatment make my sight better - or at least stop it getting worse?
  • Would a low vision aid (such as a magnifier) help?
  • Who can I talk to if I have more questions later?
  • Are there any support groups for this condition?
  • If my sight gets worse can I get any help from social services?

You can ask the ophthalmologist to write down the name of the condition they think you may have and also the names of any treatments they may recommend.

It is often easier to find accurate information if you have a record of the correct medical terms. 

It also means you can search the internet or ask a helpline for more information on the right condition.

Getting to the clinic

It may not be a good idea to drive to the hospital. Often ophthalmology clinics use drops to dilate your pupils as these make it easier for the doctor to examine the back of your eye. These will make your vision blurry for some time after the appointment. Because of this, it may not be advisable to drive yourself to the hospital.

Arranging alternative transport such as using public transport, getting a lift from a friend or a taxi, may make things easier.

If you have difficulties getting out and about, some hospitals have transport services that take you to and from your appointment. Usually your GP surgery can let you know if this is the case in your area.