Ophthalmic Services Guidance


Ophthalmic Services Guidance

 The Royal College of Ophthalmologists is the guardian of excellence in ophthalmology. It aims to set standards in all aspects of the delivery of ophthalmic care in the interests of patients and the public. Guidance is provided under various topics (see below) and is reviewed regularly. The guidance is intended to inform both ophthalmologists and those managing eye services

Standards of practice are clearly identified. The maintenance of    these standards may only be achieved through adequate staffing levels, proper facilities and appropriate managerial support. Ophthalmic care for patients must continuously improve through regular robust audit, professional development and innovation, and training.

The College information on 'The management of visual problems in people with learning disabilities' can also be supplemented by the General Medical Council's interactive learning sessions regarding patients with learning disabilities on its website.


Ophthalmic Services Guidance Chapter

Brief Description

Audit and Clinical Effectiveness

(updated February 2012)

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists developed a broad portfolio of benchmark setting ‘survey audits’ encompassing many common ophthalmological conditions and procedures.

Day Care and Inpatient Facilities

(updated May 2012)

Provides information and advice on the points to consider when planning satisfactory and safe day surgery

Ophthalmic Instrument Decontamination

(updated 2012)

The effective decontamination of re-usable surgical instruments (or other clinical devices used in direct contact with tissues) is essential in minimising the risk of infectious agents.

Emergency Eye Care

(updated March 2013)

This document provides guidance on management of emergency eye care services.

Managing an Outbreak of Postoperative Endophthalmitis

(updated January 2011)

This chapter describes a systematic approach to managing an outbreak of endophthalmitis following cataract surgery.


(updated October 2011)

This document provides a brief summary of current informatics issues related to ophthalmology within the NHS in England, Wales, and Scotland.

Management of Patients in Ophthalmology with Learning Disability & Exec Summary


The aim of this document is to provide ophthalmologists with guidance and support so as to enable them to provide insightful and quality treatment to patients with LD.

Management of Retinal Detachment

(Updated October 2010)

The management of acute retinal detachment in the United Kingdom has become increasingly successful with subspecialist VR surgeons taking over the management from the general ophthalmologist.

Prevention of transmission of blood-borne viruses in ophthalmic surgery

(Updated April 2010)

This paper aims to provide a synopsis of current guidance and published research on safe practice for minimising the risks of transmission of infection during surgery, from the ophthalmologist’s perspective. 

Occupational Visual Standards

Archived May 2014

For up to date information please visit http://www.aop.org.uk/practitioner-advice/vision-standards/

Ophthalmic Imaging

(February 2009)

This paper gives guidance as to recommended minimum equipment levels in DGH and tertiary centre departments. 

Ophthalmic Outpatient Department

(Updated May 2012)

Provides information and advice on the points to consider when planning efficient and quality ophthalmic outpatient services.

Ophthalmic Pathology Services

(October 2010)

This Ophthalmic Pathology Chapter is based on the joint guidance document of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists & the Royal College of Pathologists on referral of ophthalmic pathology specimens.

Ophthalmic Services for Children

(Updated August 2012)

Summarises the views of the Paediatric Subcommittee  regarding best practice and minimum standards in relation to health services for children with ophthalmic disorders, in keeping with the RCOphth’s Quality Standards /Indicators for Paediatric Ophthalmology.

Ophthalmic Services for Patients with Diabetes

(March 2009)

This chapter addresses issues of provision of care for patients with retinopathy referred to the hospital eye service.

Ophthalmic Workforce


The College has to take a strategic view of the anticipated numbers of trained ophthalmologists needed seven years ahead, and continues to stress the need for United Kingdom-wide workforce planning, not England in isolation.

Patient Safety in Ophthalmology

(Updated February 2011)

Efforts for improvement in ophthalmic patient safety and quality of care are vital and require professional leadership and engagement. The College's role and position in this regard in these is outlined.

Primary Care Ophthalmology Care

(updated June 2013)

This guidance is to help those designing and commissioning eye care to improve the value of their services.  It forms part of a Right Care/QIPP vision of ‘hospital without walls’ for ophthalmic care.

Sustainability in Ophthalmology

(May 2013)



Global resources are finite; as this becomes more apparent the concept of sustainability in healthcare is becoming more important. Ophthalmology is no exception and this paper has been created by a group of people from a wide variety of disciplines to inform, guide, provoke thought and offer practical solutions to some of the sustainability issues within ophthalmology.


This is a position paper from the College designed for Ophthalmologists, allied professions, other medical specialties and interested lay parties.


(Updated August 2013)

Most eye surgery should be performed in ophthalmic theatres, ideally dedicated for ophthalmic use. In practice it is frequently necessary to share facilities, in which case it is important that contamination risk is kept to a minimum.

Visual Standards for Driving

(Updated October 2013)

Most of the sensory input to the brain required for driving is visual. However surprisingly, there is little evidence that defects of vision alone cause road accidents. Nevertheless adequate standards of vision do need to be set for drivers on today’s busy roads.