Outpatients Department Frequently Asked Questions

If you have been referred to our service, you will receive an appointment letter with your allocated date and time, sent to your home address.

On the day, please arrive no earlier than 15 minutes before your appointment time. This is to stop long queues from forming and waiting areas becoming too busy.

You will need to register with the clerical staff at the reception desk, and then you will then be directed to a waiting area, where a member of the nursing staff will call your name.

Nursing staff will perform a range of vision tests/scans and will interview you about your medical health and eye problems, which usually takes between five and fifteen minutes, depending on your eye condition.

You may then be moved into another area, for a test or scan. There are several tests/scans that you may need before you are seen by the doctors, and sometimes delays can occur.  These include:

  • Visual Acuity Test 5 - 10 minutes
  • Doctor’s Consultation* 15 – 45 minutes
  • Orthoptics Consultation 15 – 60 minutes
  • OCT Scan 15 – 30 minutes
  • Humphrey Visual Field Test 30 – 45 minutes
  • Post-operative Dressing Removal and Nurse Education Session  20 –30 minutes
  • Dilation of Pupils 20 - 30 minutes
  • Blood Tests 30 – 60 minutes
  • CT Scan/X-ray 30 – 60 minutes

After you have seen the doctor and before you go home, please make sure that you:

  • Have your next appointment made by the clerical staff at reception
  • Understand your medication instructions (if you are prescribed a medication by the doctor) and
  • Have a signed medical certificate from the doctor, if required

Please allow up to 2 hours between your appointment arrival time and leaving the hospital after the doctor has finished seeing you.

Remember that some patients have poor vision, are elderly, or are with interpreters. These patients may need extra time having their tests done, increasing your waiting time.
All patients are seen by time order only – we will try to see everybody within a reasonable time frame, but unavoidable delays can occur. If you feel your wait time is unnecessary, please let the nursing staff in the clinics know. They will be able to discuss your expected wait time with you, or re-book your appointment to another day.

If you have an eye emergency, the Sydney and Sydney Eye Hospital Emergency Department offers a 24 hour, 7 day a week eye emergency service. You do not need to obtain a referral.

Appointments in the Outpatients Department can only be made after the Hospital receives a written referral from either an Ophthalmologist, Optometrist or General Practitioner. Referrals can be made either by fax, mail or email.

Please remind your referring doctor or optometrist to download the appropriate referral template by way of referring you.

General Eye referral template (Please do not use this for Medical Retina or Glaucoma referrals) - click here.

Medical Retina referral template - click here.

Glaucoma referral template - click here.

We need all the information in this template to be completed. If your General Practitioner or Optometrist has not given us enough information, we will return it to you with a letter, telling you what information we still need, and how to get it for us. When we receive this back from you, we can re-consider your referral.

Once your referral has been accepted and sent to the correct clinic, you will receive confirmation by text message from the hospital. If we have not been provided with your mobile phone number, you will not receive a text. All patients will receive a letter to their home address with their appointment date and time.

All decisions about when patients receive an appointment are made by Ophthalmology registrars or consultants. These doctors will give priority appointments to patients, depending on their eye condition and symptoms.

Patients who do not require urgent assessment may be placed on our waitlist for assessment – you will receive confirmation in a letter if you have been placed on a waiting list.

Patients who are allocated appointments and not placed on a waiting list, will receive a letter or telephone call with their appointment details as soon as possible.

If you have been referred to us and have not heard back after six weeks, please call 02 9382 7046. Our clerical staff can confirm where your referral is caught up, or let you know if you have been given an appointment date and time by the doctors.

If you have not been seen in the Outpatients Department for two or more years, you will be considered as a ‘new’ patient. You will need to obtain a new referral from your Optometrist or General Practitioner before we can give you an appointment. Please refer to ‘how do I get an appointment’ above.

The appointment letter will tell you the clinic name to which you have been allocated and the consultant Ophthalmologist in charge of this clinic. You will need to bring a referral from your General Practitioner or Optomestrist with this doctor’s name printed on the letter to your first appointment, for Medicare purposes.

If your referral has expired, clerical staff will remind you when you are checking in for your appointment, to obtain a new referral before your next visit. You require a current referral for every Sydney Eye Hospital clinic you attend, for example, if you see Dr. A for your retina, and Dr. B for your cornea, you will need two referrals with each doctor’s name printed on them.


Yes, we will contact you by text message one week before your upcoming appointment. If we have not been provided with your mobile number by the person who referred you, you will not receive a text message.

To help us with your treatment, please be prepared to provide us with the following information:

  • Any current health problems, allergies and which medications you are taking
  • If you wear glasses to read or for distance vision
  • Your home living situation and social support system
  • If you require an interpreter to assist you using medical terminology during your consultation, please make sure this is written on your original referral from your optometrist, specialist or GP.

If you miss your first appointment, we will need you to get a new referral from your Optometrist or GP. Whoever referred you will receive a letter from us advising them that you have missed your appointment, and asking them to contact you, and re-refer if you if you would still like an appointment with us.

If you miss a follow up appointment, clerical staff will usually re-book you for the next available appointment in your doctor’s clinic. Unfortunately, this can sometimes be several months into the future. If you feel this appointment is too long between visits, please ring the phone number on your appointment letter to re-arrange the appointment date/time.

Clerical staff may need to consult with your treating doctor before bringing the appointment forward, and we appreciate your patience while this is happening.

If you miss two appointments consecutively, we will send you a letter asking you to ring us and let us know if you still wish to see us.

If you miss three appointments in a row, the doctor in charge of the clinic may discharge you from their clinic, and any more appointments will require you to get a new referral from your General Practitioner or Optometrist.

We are teaching hospital and you may be asked to be involved in research or for a student to be present at your appointment. You have a right to say no. If you do so, this will no impact in any way on the services we will provide.

Clerical staff, hotel services staff, interpreters, doctors, nurses and allied health staff, such as Orthoptists.

What is an Orthoptist?

Orthoptists are university trained Allied Health professionals who specialise in assessment, diagnosis and non-surgical management of eye movement disorders, strabismus (squint), double vision and amblyopia (lazy eye).

They also specialise in care of patients with eye conditions including glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, macular degeneration, neurological or systemic disorders that affect the eyes.

The Orthoptic department at Sydney Eye Hospital provides care to adults and children. We are highly specialised in assessing vision and development of the visual system of children aged 0-16 years. We are specialise in treating reduced vision in children caused by amblyopia (or lazy eye).

We are also highly skilled in caring for children and adults with developmental delay or conditions that may affect their ability to communicate, for example people who have had a stroke or suffered a brain injury.

Some of the areas we specialise in include:

  •  Congenital or acquired strabismus
  •  Double vision (diplopia)
  •  Disorders affecting eye movement (e.g. ocular nerve palsies, Thyroid eye   disease, Myasthenia Gravis, orbital fractures)
  •  Amblyopia treatment
  •  Assessment and treatment of eye strain symptoms and reading problems
  •  Visual field testing
  •  Assessment for signs of toxicity from systemic medications

The Sydney and Sydney Eye Hospital Orthoptics department also provides a Glaucoma screening service and Diabetic eye screening service in conjunction with Ophthalmology*

*(please note there are strict referral criteria for these clinics)

The information below is also written on your appointment letter.

  1. Referral letter to the doctor named on your appointment letter – this is required for new patients to the clinic, or if you have been advised at your last appointment that a new referral is now required
  2. Financial information – current Medicare of Veterans Affairs card, insurer details if you are a compensable patient (workers compensation, public liability or third party), your private health fund membership card if you are currently insured with a private health fund.
  3. Current medication list
  4. Glasses, if you wear them
  5. Any recent X-rays or medical images and their reports, if applicable

Your appointment letter will be sent to the address provided by the General Practitioner or Optometrist who referred you. If you move address, have any questions, or need to cancel or change your appointment, please ring 02) 9382 7046 to speak to a clerical staff member.

The letter sent to you by Sydney Eye Hospital will confirm the date, day and time of your appointment. It also contains information about what to bring with you on the day of your appointment, and a contact number for the clinic, with your reference number.

How can I organise an interpreter to help me or my family member at the appointment?

Sydney Health Care Interpreter Service is a free service, available to all patients. If you do need an interpreter to help you, or want to organise an interpreter for your family member, please make sure that the General Practitioner or Optometrist who has referred you to the clinic has written this on your referral letter.

If you are an existing patient, you can book an interpreter by ringing 02) 9382 7046 and asking the clerical staff member to arrange an interpreter for your next appointment.

Please note: Interpreters can be hard to book at short notice, if there is no face-to-face interpreter available for your appointment date/time, the nursing and medical staff may use a telephone interpreter, instead. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Please note that we do not allow family members or friends to interpret for patients during medical consultations, this is against NSW Health Policy