Our Eye Infirmary is one of the leading providers of eye health care services in the UK. We are a centre of excellence, delivering outstanding ophthalmic care and research. We have a range of inpatient and outpatient services as well as our accident and emergency department.

Emergency Department

We are a specialist eye emergency department (ED) and we aim to provide a first class service to people who have eye emergencies.

It is the only 24/7 dedicated eye Accident and Emergency Unit in the North East. Patients who have an urgent eye problem and need to attend our Emergency Eye Department should ring a 24/7 number.

This is 0191 569 9952 and should be called before arriving at the hospital. This allows us to assess a patient so we can plan treatment if they do need to be seen in person.

It also means we are ready to help as soon as they arrive at our department. 

Please note that we are not a general ED and can only help with eye conditions. Our ED is not a "walk-in" clinic.

If your eye problem is not an emergency you should see your optician or GP who will refer you to one of our specialist clinics if necessary.

ED is not for second opinions, repeat prescriptions or non-urgent problems such as dry eyes, itchy eyes, hay fever and cataracts. If you need a repeat prescription please see your GP. We are unable to issue repeat prescriptions at ED.

Choosing the right services at the right time

Eye ED isn’t always the best place to go. You may get more appropriate and faster treatment elsewhere. If you or a member of your family experiences eye symptoms or injury, choosing the right NHS service can help you get on the road to recovery in no time.

So, what are the options?

Self care

Sometimes the best person to take care of you is yourself or a family member.

Simple eye infection

One of the most common eye ailments is conjunctivitis (simple eye infection). Symptoms include a combination of one or more of the following: a red eye, gritty sensation, crusted lashes or yellow/green discharge, swollen lids. The infection is mostly viral, in which case no treatment is required and it will resolve as would a head cold. Chloramphenicol antibiotic drops can help for some eye infections and are available from pharmacy who can advise. You should not use the drops if you have a known allergy to them .

Antihistamine drops

These are useful for allergic conjunctivitis. Symptoms include itchy, red, watering eyes.


Pharmacists can advise on common eye infections and simple allergies.

You can talk to your pharmacist in confidence and you don’t need an appointment. Most pharmacies now have a quiet consultation area where patients can discuss health problems in privacy.

Your GP

If your pharmacist is unable to deal with your eye condition or it doesn’t get better after a few days, your GP can help.

They provide a range of services by appointment, including medical advice, examinations and prescriptions.


Optometrists are used to examining eyes and can offer examination/reassurance/appropriate referral to eye services for a range of eye conditions. These include:

  • Gradual reduction in vision
  • Contact lens related problems
  • A change in your spectacle prescription.

NHS 111

You should use the NHS 111 service if you urgently need medical help or advice but it's not a life-threatening situation.

Call 111 if:

  • you need medical help fast but it's not a 999 emergency
  • you think you need to go to an Eye ED or need another NHS urgent care service
  • you don't know who to call or you don't have a GP to call
  • you need health information or reassurance about what to do next

New emergency phone line

Patients who have an urgent eye problem and need to attend the Emergency Eye Department at Sunderland Eye Infirmary should now call a new 24/7 emergency number - 0191 5699952 - before arriving at the hospital.

Patients calling the new 24/7 emergency number at Sunderland Eye Infirmary will speak to a specialist who will carry out a telephone consultation and, if necessary, arrange for patients to be seen face-to-face.

This is for the protection of our patients and staff will avoid large numbers of people in our waiting room and reduce the amount of time patients need to spend in the Emergency Eye Department.  

Any emergency patients attending Sunderland Eye Infirmary will be asked to call the new 24/7 emergency number on arrival.

Thank you for your co-operation.

Eye ED 999

Emergency services are always busy but this is particularly true during the winter.

You should only attend Eye ED if you have a a sudden loss of vision – painless/painful, a traumatic eye injury, a chemical injury or if you have been advised to go there by NHS 111, your GP or a Pharmacist.

Take some time to find out more about the variety of healthcare services that are available to you and your family and what they can offer. Remember, 999 and ED services are for people with very serious injuries, illnesses and emergencies.

Visiting the ED

Why do I have to wait?

Many people use the services of ED at the Eye Infirmary and after triage patients are seen in order of priority by nurse practitioners and doctors. Some of the more complex cases can take a lot of time to assess.There is an experienced nurse monitoring the waiting times and taking steps to reduce them if they become very lengthy.

After 5pm and weekends the nursing staff dispense all medication for the patients to take home, so this can add to the wait.

We aim to see and treat everyone within four hours but this is not always possible and staff will advise if the wait is likely to be longer

What should I bring if I need to come to the Eye ED?

You should bring the medicines that you take, including medicines you buy over the counter.If you have a recent prescription, please bring that too.This helps us to know what you are taking and whether it causes problems with any treatment we might suggest.

It may be necessary to dilate your pupils with drops for examination, you will be unable to drive for 4-6 hours in this case, please organise transport to bring you to the Eye ED

Out of hours

Although ED at the Eye Infirmary is open 24 hours, many of the other services at the Eye Infirmary are only available Monday –Friday, this means that ED cannot access those services out of hours, they include:-

  • Photography
  • Orthoptic Assessment
  • Optometry
  • Pharmacy for repeat prescriptions
  • Certain Blood tests

If you need any of these services arrangements will be made to have them as soon as possible.

If you require Urgent CT or MRI scan you would need to be transferred to Sunderland Royal Hospital.


Sunderland Eye Infirmary provides a whole range of ophthalmic services for the population of Sunderland and the immediate surrounding area and is also a sub-regional centre, servicing the population of the North East of England seeing in the region of 100,000 attendances every year.

Our staff

Divisonal Director - Sheena Fish

Associate Divisional Director - Caroline Bell

Clinical Director - Ajay Kotagori

Directorate Manager - Fiona Vause

Matron - Peter Savage


Sunderland Eye Infirmary (Queen Alexandra Road, Sunderland, SR2 9HP)

Sunderland Eye Infirmary – Directions

The Eye Infirmary is well served by bus routes and there are bus stops directly outside the Infirmary.

Contact us

Clinical Director ­Ajay Kotagiri – 0191 565 6256 ext 46223

Directorate Manager Fiona Vause – 0191 565 6256 ext 46242 

Sunderland Eye Infirmary Emergency Department – 0191 569 9951
Action for Blind Representative (ECLO) – 0191 565 6256 extension 46259
Appointments – 0191 569 9072 / 569 9885 / 569 9886 / 569 9161 (Direct Lines)
Cataract Treatment Centre 0191 565 6256 extension 46377
Haygarth Clinic 0191 565 6256 extension 46298
Haygarth Ward 0191 565 6256 extension 46249
Macular Unit 0191 565 6256 extension 46288
Matron 0191 565 6256 extension 46233

Mayling Unit 0191 565 6256 extension 46221
Medical Photography 0191 565 6256 extension 46214
Medical Records 0191 565 6256 extension 46362/46339/46260/46340/46362/49080

Medical Records/Scheduling manager 0191 5656256 extension 46209
Optometry 0191 565 6256 extension 46259
Orthoptics 0191 565 6256 extension 49064
Outpatients A 0191 565 6256 extension 46273
Outpatients B 0191 565 6256 extension 49080
Pharmacy 0191 565 6256 extension 46256
Senior Medical Secretary 0191 565 6256 extension 49067

Outpatient Area A

This is where a lot of activity takes place and where many patients have a first appointment. Clinics are held for adults and children, with optometrists, nurses and consultants.Minor surgery takes place here and staff offer a great deal of advice and support.

Outpatients A 0191 565 6256 extension 46273

Outpatient Area B

The Outpatient B area provides a service to compliment the Cataract Treatment Centre. A number of nurse-led initiatives take place including preadmission assessment for cataract surgery and post-operative cataract clinics. Patients are given a choice of dates and times of surgery to suit.

Other services provided are diabetic clinics including laser treatments.

The aim of outpatient B is to provide patient-centred care of the highest standard, giving the patients and their relatives’ information, education and choice.

Outpatients B 0191 565 6256 extension 46377

Clinical Trials Unit

The Ophthalmology team at Sunderland Eye Infirmary (SEI) is very committed to ongoing research and development to bring about advancements in the care and treatment of patients with eye disease and as such as a dedicated Clinical Trials Unit.

The Sunderland Eye Infirmary provide both medical and surgical treatment of eye diseases, as well as optometry and visual rehabilitation and as a result we support a wide range of research including:

  • studies involving medicines for diseases of the eye and optic nerve
  • studies involving devices in diseases of the eye and optic nerve
  • studies of childhood and inherited visual disorders
  • studies which document the natural history of eye diseases
  • studies to identify the risk factors and causes of eye diseases
  • studies of aids to help people with visual impairment and visual rehabilitation programmes

Active studies at the moment focus on conditions such as:

  • Age related macular degeneration
  • Diabetic macular oedema
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Retinal vein occlusion
  • Vitreo-macular traction (VMT)
  • Glaucoma
  • Eye trauma

Click here for a full list of trials taking place at the moment.

The Research Team

SEI Research Lead: Mr David Steel

Ophthalmology Specialty Group Lead for Local Clinical Research Network:Mrs Deepali Varma

We also have a number of consultants actively leading on clinical trials

  • Mr Maged Habib – Retina
  • Mr Jonathan Smith – Retina
  • Mr Ajay Kotagiri – Retina
  • Miss Teresa Sandinha – Retina
  • Mr Nick Wride – Glaucoma
  • Mr Dugald Bell – Uveitis

Other staff involved in clinical research include:

  • Doctors (the study investigators) who assess your eyes and give study treatments
  • Research Nurses co-ordinating study activities and to support you during the study
  • Optometrists to check your vision
  • Photographs who take images and scans of your eyes

If you would like to find out more about current and future ophthalmic research please visit the UK Clinical Trials Gateway. To find out what may be involved in participating in a research trial at Sunderland Eye Infirmary Clinical Trials Unit click here.

If you would like any further information about ophthalmic research at Sunderland Eye Infirmary please contact Steve Dodds, Lead Nurse (steve.dodds@chsft.nhs.uk) Tel 0191 569 9039

Main theatres/Day case unit

This very busy dual theatre suite carries out all inpatient surgery and non-cataract day case surgery such as lid surgery. There are elective lists every day and emergency lists held at weekends and bank holidays. The consultant team have an on call rota for general ophthalmology and for retinal surgery as part of the regional services. Nurse led minor operations and injections also take place within the theatre area as part of the macular activity. When attending for day case most patients bring a relative with them who can stay in the waiting area until complete if they wish.