Provider News

New Referral Guidelines and PCP Resources for Ophthalmology

May 6, 2020

Our Ophthalmology program has released updated referral guidelines and resources for patient care, including a vetted list of pediatric eye care providers in Washington.

The new information is intended to help our Ophthalmology program focus on seeing patients who cannot find equivalent care in the community and reduce the long wait times in our clinic — currently about five months for patients with nonurgent conditions.

Highlights of the new referral guidelines:

  • Ophthalmology will see new patients through age 16 only. New patients 17 and older should be referred to an ophthalmologist for adults.
  • Referrals need to be complete, including all pertinent vision screening, special testing, specialty evaluation reports (optometry, ophthalmology) and surgical procedure reports.
  • We do not see children who only need glasses; please refer them to an eye care provider in the community. See our list of community eye care providers in Washington.
  • 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). You are welcome to use our list of community eye care providers in Washington 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/SCCA patients
      • Children with Down syndrome, diabetes or autism
    • Failed or abnormal vision screening
    • 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 (except for surgery)
    • Squinting, blinking, eye rubbing
    • Floaters, visual disturbances
    • Headache in the absence of vision symptoms, shunt or craniosynostosis
  • 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 times to be seen at Seattle Children’s. Please see our list of community eye care providers  in Washington.

For more information, including PCP resources, visit our “Refer a Patient” page for Ophthalmology.