Service overview - Ophthalmology

The Ophthalmology team provides specialist eye care for patients of all ages, from premature babies upwards. Services include:

  • Paediatric
  • Glaucoma
  • Retinal
  • Corneal
  • ocular-plastics
  • macular degeneration
  • emergency clinics.

Our multi-disciplinary team provides excellent eye care based on current best practice.

Using the latest technology in our well-equipped facilities we plan and provide speedy, accurate diagnosis and appropriate care pathways for patients.

To find out more about our services and how to get in contact, please expand on the sections below.

Video appointments

Many of our services offer video calls as a more convenient way of having an appointment with one of our healthcare professionals. This reduces the need for you to attend the hospital physically.

If you have an appointment letter with a video appointment link and instructions, please read more on our Video appointments page.

What to expect when you come and see us

Prepare for alternative transport

It may be necessary for the nursing staff to instil drops into the eyes to dilate the pupils.  The drops allow our doctors to examine the back of the eye in more detail, but often causes the vision to become blurry.

Therefore, it’s important that you do not drive for up to six hours after the appointment until the vision has returned to normal. Due to this we would advise that you make sure you have a safe method of transport arranged after your test.

Testing

A member of the nursing team will assess the vision in each eye by reading down the letter chart.  Your colour vision and pupil reactions may also be checked.

There are several additional assessments you may need before seeing the doctor, including visual field examination, imaging of the back of the eye or a measurement of the front of the eye.  If possible, these will be completed on the same day as your appointment.

Time

We can be a busy department and due to the various tests you may need, please be prepared to stay in the clinic for a couple of hours.

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Orsett Diagnostic Hub

The diagnostic hubs take people through a series of rapid tests which are all completed within a 45 minute visit.

Each patient’s results are then individually reviewed online by the consultants and their teams.

You will get a letter informing you of the outcome of your tests - you may also be offered a virtual video or telephone appointment to discuss particular results.  You will only be asked to attend a subsequent hospital visit if the consultant sees something needs urgent or personal attention.

This format reduces the time you need to spend in clinic and the number of overall face to face attendances making the your journey more efficient.

How to get there

The hub at Orsett hospital is easily accessible by public transport on the 200 or 265 buses and has free parking.

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Outpatient clinics we offer

Age-Related Macular Degeneration clinic (ARMD)

On the initial visit to the department for suspected age-related macular degeneration, you will undergo full investigation tests.  

Your vision will be checked by the nurse and some drops instilled to dilate the pupils.  You will then have an OCT scan and the doctor will review the results and decide if a fluorescein angiogram (FFA) needs to be completed.

If you do need a FFA, dye will be injected into your blood stream and a sequence of photographs will be taken to see the blood vessels at the back of your eye for assessment.  If you meet the criteria you will then be offered a course of injections into the eye with the aim of preserving your vision.

Once your course of injections have been completed you will be regularly reviewed by our doctors along with repeat OCT scans.  This is to make sure we are can accurately monitor the disease progress.  Further injections will be offered if the doctor feels further treatment is needed.

(Wet) Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD)

A new eye disease treatment is now available on the NHS for patients in Essex called wet ARMD – to find out more, ask your healthcare professional.

Botox clinic

Our consultant injects botulin toxin into the muscles of the face around the eyes in the case of blepharospasm.

Blepharospasm is the uncontrollable twitching of the muscles which can be uncomfortable.

Cataract

If the you have been referred by an optician to have a cataract removed, you will be seen in the cataract clinic.

The doctor will assess the cataract to decide if it’s ready to be removed and if so the nurse will go through all the pre-operation questions and health assessment with you.  You will then be put on the waiting list for cataract surgery.

Corneal clinic

The cornea is at the front of the eye and allows light into the eye.

A staff nurse will help a specialist consultant by completing assessments of this area using a pentacam to assess the shape of the cornea and the cell check assesses the health of the corneal cells.

Diabetic eye screening service

The diabetic eye screening service offers diabetic patients a yearly photographic screen of their eyes in the community.  

During this test, you will have dilating drops, an OCT scan of the eyes which is reviewed by a doctor who then decides on future management.

If they are concerned about your eyes, they will refer you to our hospital eye service.

Fundus photography

The fundus camera takes a digital photograph of the back of the eye. 

The fundus camera is used for the fundus fluorescein angiogram clinics to assess the blood supply to the retina.  A special dye is injected into the blood vessels of your arm and a number of images are taken as the dye travels around the arteries and veins in the eye.

Fundus Fluorescein Angiography clinic (FFA)

Fluorescein dye is injected into a vein in your arm and as the dye travels around the body, it enters the blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye.  The photographer can use the fundus camera to take images of how the dye travels around these vessels in order to look for blockages or leaks.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma clinics are for patients either diagnosed with, or under investigation for glaucoma.

Within these clinics you will typically undergo a visual field assessment and digital imaging of the optic disc either with a photograph or an OCT scan.

Injection clinic

The injections are to treat either macular degeneration or macular oedema.

Laser

The laser clinic is for the treatment of retinal problems and in the management of glaucoma.  Laser treatment is often needed following cataract surgery.

Macular oedema clinic

On the initial visit to the department for suspected macular oedema you will be fully investigated.  Your vision is checked by the nurse and some drops instilled in the eyes to dilate the pupils.  You will then have an OCT scan and the doctor will review the results.  If you meet the criteria, you will be offered a course of injections into the eye with the aim of preserving the vision.

Once you have completed your course of injections, you will be regularly reviewed by a doctor along with repeat OCT scans.  This is to make sure progress of the disease is monitored regularly.

Further injections will be offered if the doctor feels further treatment is needed.

Minor surgery

We can complete small eye lid procedures, such as the removal of small lumps in our outpatient surgery clinic.

Ocular plastics clinic

Oculoplastics concentrates on the area around the eye, including the eye lids and tear ducts.

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)

The OCT uses a harmless laser to assess the tissues of the eye.  It’s mostly used if the ophthalmologist is concerned about the macular (central vision) of the retina, particularly in patients with diabetes.

The OCT is regularly used to assess the optic disc in glaucoma patients.

Orthoptic clinic

Orthoptists are experts in evaluating vision and can assess the vision in patients of all ages from newborn babies to adults and patients with special needs.  They specialise in assessing eye movements and in the visual development of children.

The orthoptists monitor and treat children with amblyopia (“lazy eye” or “lazy vision”, when one eye can see more clearly than the other) and strabismus (“squint”, when one eye turns in a different direction to the other eye).  Children are reviewed regularly and are treated with glasses, wearing a patch, exercises or with surgery by the consultant ophthalmologist.

The orthoptists diagnose and manage patients with eye movement abnormalities such as those experiencing double vision, or those with difficulties moving their eyes perhaps due to trauma, palsy or disease.

Paediatric clinic

In the paediatric clinic, children are seen by the orthoptist, refractionist and the ophthalmologist.  The orthoptist assesses the vision, visual alignment and movement of the eyes.  The child then sees the refractionist to check for a spectacle prescription and is reviewed by the ophthalmologist.  

Post-operative clinic

The post-operative clinics are mostly for after cataract surgery to make sure that the eye has healed and that the vision has improved.  After cataract surgery, you will be asked to bring a copy of their new glasses prescription to the appointment to help with auditing purposes.

Retinal

You will have your pupils dilated with drops.  The drops allow the doctor to see more of the retina at the back of the eye, but usually make the patient’s vision blurry for a few hours.  

Often the retinal patients have an OCT scan of the back of the eye, particularly if the concern is with their central vision.

Refraction clinic

The refractionist (or optometrist) carries out a refraction to determine your spectacle prescription.  This clinic is mainly for children, but adults can be seen in exceptional circumstances.

The dispensing optician has a large selection of children’s spectacle frames to choose from, or the prescription can be taken to the patient’s local dispensing optician if preferred.

Secondary vision screening

The orthoptists provide a secondary vision screening service in community clinics for children that have failed their eye check with the school nurse or whose parents mention concerns about the eyes or vision to their health visitor.  The clinics are held at a variety of local health and children’s centres and offer reassurance for parents, or referral into the hospital eye service for further investigation or treatment.

Visual field assessment

The visual field machine assesses your peripheral vision.  It’s used mainly to assess glaucoma and is also useful if you’ve had a stroke, another neurological disease or if you are on medications with side-effects that could affect peripheral vision.

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Meet the team

We have a multidisciplinary team made up of:

  • Consultants – all can deal with general eye conditions and also specialise in their own major areas of ophthalmology treatment.
  • Clinic coordinators - leads the ophthalmology appointment booking staff.  They manage the appointment waiting lists and optimises clinic capacity by checking clinics are fully booked daily.
  • Doctors – support our consultants, some of whom are on rotation from other specialist units such as Moorfields.
  • Medical secretaries - type clinic letters and support our consultants and doctors in their administrative duties.
  • Nurses and healthcare support workers (HCAs) – all specially trained in eye care.
  • Orthoptists – trained specialists in diagnosing and treating.
  • Optometrists – trained specialists who examen patient’s eyes.
  • Photographers – are trained photographers specialising in photography of the eyes.
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Referrals

Patients are most commonly referred by their optician or their GP.

Via optician - if your optician decides that you need to be seen urgently in the eye clinic, they will contact an eye doctor by phone to arrange an appointment for you.

If your problem is less urgent, they will write to the eye unit or refer you to your GP for help.

Via GP - if your GP decides that you need to be seen urgently in the eye clinic they will contact an eye doctor by phone to arrange for you to be seen urgently, usually either the same day or the following day.

If your problem is less urgent, they will write to the eye unit to arrange a clinic appointment for you.

Via A&E (casualty clinics) - if your optician or doctor thinks you need to see an eye doctor urgently they can phone and speak to the on-call doctor. You will be given an appointment for either the same day or the following day. This service is available every day, including weekends and bank holidays.

If you do have a problem and you want advice about what to do, contact the hospital switchboard to speak to one of our nurses.

Alternatively, you can contact NHS Direct.

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Inpatient services

Southend

Both Southend and Orsett Hospitals provide a full range of inpatient and day stay care facilities, including a ten bedded ward for those requiring an overnight stay.

All surgery needing a general anaesthetic is done at our hospital. Orsett Hospital provides full outpatient and day stay care facilities.

Those needing inpatient care are transferred to Southend. 

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Contact us

Broomfield

Location: Broomfield Hospital, A106. We also have clinics in Braintree Community Hospital, St Peters Hospital, Maldon and at Tyler's Ride South Woodham Ferrers Health Centre - click for Google maps location .

Surgery waiting list - call 01245 514767.

Injection clinic – call 01245 514899.

Dispensing opticians (regarding glasses) - call 01621 782048.

Ophthalmology waiting list – call 01245 514767.

Diabetic eye screening service - call 01245 516707.

Age-related macular degeneration and macular oedema clinics – call 01245 514899.

Vision screening (for patients under the care of the orthoptic department) - call 01245 514500 or email mie-tr.Orthopticsbroomfield@nhs.net

Orsett

Information coming soon about the new diagnostic hub for people in and around the Basildon and Orsett area.

Southend

Eye unit - call 01702 508181.

NHS Direct - call 0845 4647.