The Ophthalmology Program is temporarily instituting additional limits on referrals, as outlined in “Criteria for new patients” below. Telehealth is generally not a suitable option for eye appointments, and the new referral criteria will help us prioritize in-person appointments for patients with the most urgent needs who cannot find equivalent care in the community. Wait times at Seattle Children’s are currently about five months; patients with urgent needs will be seen in a timely manner.

To help community providers find eye care for their patients who cannot be seen here, we offer a list of optometrists and ophthalmologists throughout Washington state who see children, including, in most cases, those with disabilities or special needs. More information about referring to Ophthalmology is found on our website.

Criteria for new patients

We are currently accepting referrals for the following:

  • Serious/complex diagnoses felt to be most optimally managed at Seattle Children’s, including:
      1. Nystagmus
      2. Possible or diagnosed retinal dystrophy or other serious retinal diagnosis (such as retinal detachment or fungal retinitis)
      3. Uveitis or JIA screening for children under 4 years old
      4. Serious optic nerve disease such as optic neuritis, optic neuropathy, optic nerve glioma or papilledema
      5. Ocular sequelae of a brain tumor, including cranial nerve palsy, optic neuropathy and papilledema
      6. Pediatric or congenital glaucoma, anterior segment dysgenesis, Sturge Webber, glaucoma suspected only if requested consultation by outside pediatric ophthalmologist — refer to outside pediatric ophthalmologist if hasn’t seen yet
      7. Ocular tumors, including retinoblastoma and any family history of retinoblastoma, retinal astrocytoma, etc.
      8. Orbital tumors such as rhabdomyosarcoma
      9. Blepharokeratitis that has failed outside management by an eye care provider
      10. Microphthalmos and anophthalmos
      11. Low vision (Manh) only if recommended by pediatric optometrist or pediatric ophthalmologist
      12. New proptosis
      13. Ocular sequelae of craniosynostosis (exophthalmos, exposure keratopathy, papilledema, strabismus, etc.)
      14. Any referral from an outside pediatric ophthalmologist for a condition they feel they need our opinion/expertise on (such as unexplained chronic conjunctivitis, iris or retinal lesion or unexplained vision loss)
  • Surgical consultation, including but not limited to:
      1. Uncontrolled strabismus
      2. Nasolacrimal duct obstruction
      3. Eyelid ptosis
      4. Dermoid cyst
      5. Cataract
      6. Secondary intraocular lens placement
      7. Trichiasis
      8. Glaucoma surgery
      9. Surgery for retinopathy of prematurity
  • Urgent consultations already on our waitlist:
      1. Leukocoria
      2. Failed vision screening in setting of high risk such as trisomy 21
      3. Rule out uveitis (overdue for exam)
      4. 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 your patient 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/acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)/SCCA patients
    • Children with Down syndrome, diabetes or autism spectrum disorder
  • 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 (even if surgical consult)
  • Squinting, blinking, eye rubbing
  • Floaters, visual disturbances
  • Headache in the absence of vision symptoms, shunt or craniosynostosis

As a reminder:

  • Ophthalmology does not see children who only need glasses.
  • Ophthalmology sees new patients through age 16 only.
  • 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). Wait times 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.