Sometimes your optometrist may suggest that it would be wise to seek advice from either your general practitioner (GP) or a specialist.

For example, your optometrist may ask your GP to check for something specific, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Alternatively, you may be referred to a specialist at the hospital.

If you need to be referred, your optometrist will inform you of the reasons for referral and write to your GP.  You will also be told whether you need to make an appointment to see your GP or whether your GP will contact you.

If your optometrist has asked your GP to arrange a hospital appointment for you, your GP will normally send your optometrist’s letter, along with a covering letter with any relevant medical details, to the hospital. These letters will be read by the specialist at the hospital who will decide how urgently you need to be seen. The hospital will then write to you with an appointment time. You may request to see any letters that are written about you.

Optometrists may also refer patients directly to a hospital eye department rather than via the GP although they must inform your GP of their findings and the reason for the referral. You should also be given a copy of the referral letter.

If you have not heard anything from your GP or the hospital within a few weeks of your optometrist referring you, then you should contact your GP. Your optometrist may not automatically be told whether you have been seen by your GP or the hospital. As the urgency of appointments depends on the urgency of your condition, you should not worry if there appears to be a long time to wait between receiving the appointment notice and the date of the appointment.

In exceptional circumstances, where your eye condition requires urgent attention, it may be necessary for your optometrist to refer you directly to a hospital accident and emergency department. In this case, your optometrist will normally give you a letter to take with you and inform your GP of the reason for referral.