Refer a Patient

For our most current wait times by specialty and location, see our Access Dashboard.

View Seattle Children’s Access Dashboard

How to Refer a Patient

To locate or expedite a referral, please call our Clinical Intake Coordinators at 206-987-2080, option 2.

Appointment availability

Updated November 2023.

A referral is required. Due to capacity constraints, we are currently accepting referrals only for patients who cannot find equivalent care in the community. See “Criteria for new patients” below.

Next available appointments are currently about 5 months out. Patients who need urgent care will be seen in a timely manner.

To improve access, we are:

  • Reviewing referrals daily. Our internal triage process identifies those patients who need to see a specialist most urgently.
  • Actively recruiting and hiring new providers.
  • Redirecting patients to appropriate providers in the community, when their condition can be managed in the primary care setting or by a non-surgical ophthalmology practice.

Referral requirements

Please submit a referral that is complete. This helps us schedule your patient’s appointment in a timely manner and ensure their first visit is smooth and productive.     

Please include:

  • Service/specialty clinic requested
  • Reason for referral: what is the clinical question for the specialist?
  • If the referral is urgent (see within 4 weeks) or routine (next available)
  • ICD-10 Diagnosis – required
  • Visit type:
    • New patient consult, transfer of care, second opinion, or return visit/ongoing care
  • ALL relevant clinical documents
    • Clinic notes
    • Medication history
    • Growth charts/curves 
    • Lab reports
    • Imaging and diagnostic reports
    • Previous specialty evaluations
  • Patient’s full name, DOB, sex, address, guardian contact information and insurance
  • Referring provider’s name, phone, fax and the referral coordinator’s email address so that we may contact you if additional information is needed
  • Preferred clinic location
  • If an interpreter is needed
  • Any known barriers to performing a successful telehealth (video) visit with the family
  • Vision screening or special testing
  • Specialty evaluation reports (optometry, ophthalmology)
  • Surgical procedure reports

Criteria for new patients

Our focus is on seeing children who cannot find equivalent care in the community. We are currently accepting referrals for the following.

  • Serious/complex diagnoses felt to be most optimally managed at Seattle Children’s including:
    • Failed vision screening in setting of high risk such as Trisomy 21
    • Nystagmus
    • Possible or diagnosed retinal dystrophy or other serious retinal diagnosis (such as retinal detachment, fungal retinitis)
    • Uveitis, or JIA screening for children under 4 years old
    • Serious optic nerve disease such as optic neuritis, optic neuropathy, optic nerve glioma, papilledema
    • Ocular sequelae of brain tumor including cranial nerve palsy, optic neuropathy, papilledema
    • Pediatric or congenital glaucoma, anterior segment dysgenesis, Sturge Weber, glaucoma suspect only if requested consultation by outside pediatric ophthalmologist – refer to outside pediatric ophthalmologist if hasn’t seen yet
    • Ocular tumors including retinoblastoma and any family history of retinoblastoma, retinal astrocytoma, etc. Orbital tumors such as rhabdoymyosarcoma.
    • Blepharokeratitis failed outside management by eye care provider
    • Microphthalmos, anophthalmos
    • Low vision (Manh) only if recommended by pediatric optometrist or pediatric ophthalmologist
    • New proptosis
    • Ocular sequelae of craniosynostosis (exophthalmos, exposure keratopathy, papilledema, strabismus, etc)
    • Any referral from an outside pediatric ophthalmologist for a condition they feel they need our opinion/expertise (such as unexplained chronic conjunctivitis, iris or retinal lesion, unexplained vision loss)
  • Surgical consultation including but not limited to:
    • Uncontrolled strabismus
    • Nasolacrimal duct obstruction
    • Eyelid ptosis
    • Dermoid cyst
    • Cataract
    • Secondary intraocular lens placement
    • Trichiasis
    • Glaucoma surgery
    • Surgery for Retinopathy of prematurity
    • Chalazion or stye that has failed management with an outside eye care provider for at least 2 months
  • Urgent consultations:
    • Leukocoria
    • Rule out uveitis (overdue for exam)
    • Others felt to be time sensitive, and difficult to urgently send elsewhere

Patients referred for the following reasons will be redirected to their PCP or a community pediatric eye care provider (optometrist or ophthalmologist) unless there is a documented visit from an eye care specialist who believes the patient needs to be seen at Seattle Children’s (and is referring them either directly or through their PCP). Please see our list of community eye care providers (PDF) if you would like to refer them directly.

  • Baseline and screening exams including farsightedness, nearsightedness, reading problems, and tracking problems in children >12 months (not including strabismus)
  • Baseline and screening exams, including for the following patient populations (if no history of eye disease):
    • Leukemia/ALL patients
    • Children with diabetes or autism
  • Failed or abnormal vision screening
  • Rule out uveitis (such as juvenile idiopathic arthritis) but never diagnosed with uveitis for children 4 years and older
  • Decreased vision of unspecified duration and cause
  • Refractive errors (astigmatism, myopia, hyperopia)
  • Blepharitis
  • Blocked tear duct (in patients under 1 year old)
  • Chalazion or stye without prior management by an eye care provider for at least 2 months
  • Squinting, blinking, eye-rubbing
  • Floaters, visual disturbances
  • Headache in the absence of vision symptoms, shunt or craniosynostosis

Please note:

  • We do not see children who only need glasses. Please refer them to an eye care professional in the community.
  • Children with developmental disabilities are welcome by most pediatric ophthalmologists outside of Seattle Children’s as long as the patient is able to follow the eye exam (which is the same standard used by Seattle Children’s). Waits to see these providers are typically shorter than the wait to be seen at Seattle Children’s. Please see our list of eye care providers (PDF) that has been vetted by our faculty.
  • We see new patients through age 16 only. If your patient is 17 or older, we ask that you refer them to an ophthalmologist for adults.
  • Patients who have not been seen by our department in the last 3 years will need a new referral.

Submit a referral

New Appointment Request Form (PDF) (DOC)

Step-by-step guide to submitting a referral

New Patient Referral FAQ

We’re committed to partnering with you

If we evaluate your patient and determine they do not have a condition that requires our management or surgery in a specialty setting, we will return them to you with an appropriate plan of care.

We are creating tools to support referring providers in caring for patients who have conditions that can be evaluated and treated in primary care.  Learn more in Resources for Providers below.

We are always available to answer questions and support your care of your patients.

  • Diagnosis and treatment options: call 206-987-7777 (Provider-to-Provider Line)
  • Referring or transporting a patient to our Emergency Department or Urgent Care: call 206-987-8899 or toll free 866-987-8899 (ED Communications Center)

Learn more about managing your patients at Seattle Children's, including viewing your patient’s records.

Meet the Ophthalmology team.

See our locations.

What Your Patients Can Expect

  • Once we receive your referral, your patient should call to schedule an appointment.
  • Patients can expect to wait about 5 months for an appointment unless it’s urgent in which case we will get them in quickly.

We review openings and the patient referral queue daily.

Resources for Providers  

To suggest additional resources from Seattle Children’s that would be useful to primary care providers, please email us.