Eye Care Referrals: Royal Alex Hospital

Why do I have to go to the Royal Alex Hospital after seeing my eye doctor?

Your optometrist is qualified to handle the majority of eye care conditions that may arise during a routine eye health exam or emergency eye exam situation. In some eye conditions however, more advance eye care or medical care may be warranted. Some eye findings are simply warming sings of more serious underlying health issues that need to be addressed in order to resolve the visual symptoms you may be experiencing.

Like your family physician, your optometrists can help to coordinate the appropriate eye care required by the most appropriate health care provider. Occasionally, this may be an ophthalmologist that specializes in certain surgical procedures or specific eye diseases.

Why the Royal Alex Hospital? The Royal Alex Hospital is considered the home of ophthalmology in Edmonton and most local ophthalmologist work regular clinic shifts within the eye clinic. Typically, patients must be referred into the Royal Alex Hospital eye care unit by an optometrist, family physician or emergency room physician. These referrals are reserved for urgent eye care needs only and not routine eye health examinations.

If your eye condition is less urgent, and you are still wondering why you were referred to the Royal Alex Hospital. It’s probably because many specialized ophthalmologists have their full time clinics stationed at Royal Alex Hospital and your appointment may simply be with one of them.

FYI: If you ever have any questions or concerns about where one of our optometrist refers you to, please do not hesitate to contact the office. Your optometrist will be happy to explain the reason behind the decision and can make any necessary changes to the appointment when possible.  


 Book your next eye exam in Sherwood Park with an optometrist at eye-bar optometrists, opticians & eyewear specialists 

What exactly is pink eye?

To start, there are a few different types of pink eye:

Pink eye related to bacterial eye infections can cause a lot of swelling and produce sticky green discharge, resulting in eyes that are often ‘glued’ shut in the morning. Bacterial eye infections are more commonly seen in contact lens wearers and can result from our skins own bacteria.

Pink eye related to viral infections is by far the most common cause, and is caused by the same virus that results in the common cold. Viral pink eye will usually result in a watery eye with little to no discharge, but may still be crusted shut in the morning. Viral pink eye is the most contagious of all pink eyes, which is why it hangs out in preschools, daycares and work environments.

Pink eye related to allergies is more common after coming in contact with allergens and is often associated with other physical symptoms like stuffy nose, itchy skin or swollen eyes. People often complain of itching and may want to rub their eyes.

Pink eye can also be related to some more serious eye conditions like scleritis, uveitis, or iritis. These conditions require more urgent care, and will generally not resolve on their own if left untreated.

Regardless of the cause of your pink eye, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis by your optometrist to ensure that the treatment matches the condition. Please don’t touch anyone until you see us, and we’ll let you know if you are contagious.

Please Note: Alberta Health Care now covers the cost of emergency eye care visits to your optometrists office – there is no charge to you as a patient. 

What do I do if I get metal in my eye?

If you’ve sustained an eye injury, it is important not to panic but to try and see an eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist) as soon as possible. If you feel that your eye injury is severe, please have someone drive you to the nearest emergency room. If you don’t feel that your injury is severe, please read on.

Most metal foreign body injuries occur accidently with metal fragments falling off an eyebrow or somehow getting around safety wear and landing gently on the surface of the eye. The metal or other foreign object can easily adhere to the wet surface of the eye and result in a scratchy, irritating sensation. As your eye is a moist environment, metal can start to rust and result in further irritation. Left untreated, metal foreign objects can eventually result in a large eye infection and may result in partial or permanent vision loss.

Most metal objects can be safely and quickly removed by your optometrist saving you a trip to the emergency room. Your optometrist will evaluate your eye by instilling numbing eye drops to ease any discomfort. Once located, the metal can often be easily removed with specialized magnetic instruments with little to no discomfort.

If the metal has been left in the eye to long, a small amount of rust may be left over after the removal. This rust can lead to similar eye problems and a continued foreign body like sensation in the eye. Your optometrist will quickly remove this rust with an Algerbrush, a fast moving instrument that gently polishes the surface of the eye.

Your eye doctor will provide you with a prescription for topical antibiotic eye drops or ointments along with lubricating eye drops, which must be used for a few days.

Please Note: Alberta Health Care now covers the cost of emergency eye care visits to your optometrist office – there is no charge to you as a patient. If you should ever experience a serious eye injury after normal eye-bar clinic hours, please proceed to the Royal Alexandra Hospital, where there is an on-call ophthalmology resident on site.

Warning Signs of Serious Eye Disease

If you should ever experience any of the following symptoms please call eye-bar as soon as possible @ 780.467.3341. Most emergency visits to your optometrist are now covered under Alberta Health Care.

  •  Sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • Seeing flashes of light in one or both of your eyes
  • Seeing a large number of spots or “floaters” in your eyes, especially if the number has increased dramatically recently
  • Double vision
  • Pain in or around the eyes
  • Headaches that progressively worsen over time.

If you should ever experience any of these ocular symptoms outside of normal eye-bar office hours, please proceed directly to the Royal Alexandra Hospital or call Health Link Alberta @ 780.408.5465 for further assistance.


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