UCL Institute of Ophthalmology


Department of Eye Pathology

The Department of Eye Pathology (DEP) is a National Specialist Ophthalmic Pathology Service (NSOPS) laboratory and offers a highly specialised clinical laboratory service. Our service is free to the NHS in England and is chargeable for private cases and those outside of England. Additionally, the DEP also acts as a referral centre for ophthalmic specimens from abroad. We are a patient-centric department and we regularly exceed our stated target turnaround time of 90% of samples received are reported in 7 days or less.

DEP is a histopathology laboratory where materials, methods and expertise are used that allows tissue-based morphological, histochemical and immunological analysis on samples obtained from the human eye and vitreous fluid. 

The core function of our department is the delivery of results and diagnosis to support clinical advice. Histopathological examination of biopsy material, either diagnostic or excisional, of any tissue from the eye or its adnexal structures is available.  We employ technologically advanced equipment hand-in-hand with expert knowledge and skills; this in turn helps us in achieving consistent high quality results and supports our diagnostic innovation to exceed basic compliance needs. The DEP is committed to the safe and secure handling and disposal of confidential information and accurately reporting results of investigations in a timely, confidential and clinically useful manner.

We subscribe to multiple UKNEQAS schemes, including Lymphoma and Neuropathology modules. Our consultants are leads in the National Ophthalmic Pathology (NOP) EQA. We are enrolled in the UKAS accreditation scheme, where we are continually assessed against ISO: 15189.

Fast Paraffin, Urgent and Vitreous Cytology samples

It is of the up most importance to indicate on the REQUEST FORM AND SPECIMEN if the patient is known or suspected to be within a “High Risk/Danger of Infection” category (e.g. HIV, TB, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C positive), to facilitate safe and appropriate handling.

Fast Paraffin samples are where a lesion is excised and subsequent reconstruction depends on whether the margins are tumour free. This Fast Paraffin Processing is labour-intensive and must be booked in advanced (02076086948). The sample should be fixed in 10% Neutral Buffered Formalin and delivered to the laboratory on the morning of the initial surgery for next day opinion. For molecular diagnostic methods and any other enquiries please contact the laboratory.

Urgent Specimens should be received by the laboratory as early in the day as practicable. It should be indicated on the request form if the specimen is required urgently and laboratory staff should be informed prior to and on arrival of the specimen. Please provide as much information as possible, including if a report is required by a particular date. The Department of Eye Pathology will strive to accommodate these requests, but it must be noted that every sample is unique and some might require longer investigations.

Specimens for cytological Investigations include surface impression cytology and cytology of fluid such as tears, aqueous, vitreous, or fluid from cystic lesions.  

v Impression cytology discs should be submitted in a pot containing formalin in a manner similar to histology specimens.

v Aspirates of fluids (e.g. vitreous) may be submitted fresh if it is possible to arrange immediate transport to the laboratory within working hours. Where this is not practicable, fixation of the specimen is recommended.

v Small volume cytology specimens: the syringe used in the collection of the sample may be submitted with the fluid inside. Needles must be removed and the syringe capped. If the lab advices the specimen to be fixed; an equal volume of 10% formalin may be drawn up into the same syringe. Indication should be made on the request form as to whether the specimen is fixed or not. If microbiological investigation is required, the requesting clinician must submit a separate specimen to an appropriate microbiology department. It is not possible for the DEP to split a specimen under any circumstances.

v Aqueous or vitreous specimens for cytopathology should follow the current version of “Aqueous and Vitreous Cytopathology, Protocol for Moorfields Eye Hospital, City Road Patients‟ (refer to Appendix 1) and complete the aqueous/vitreous cytology request form on the reverse of the protocol. Please contact the laboratory if further supplies are required.

Meet the staff

We are all dedicated to the provision of not only the highest quality clinical eye care service but also making significant contributions towards delivering research and education to prevent and eliminate blindness. This consultant-lead team believe and maintain strong tradition of close cooperative contacts with clinical colleagues and researchers. We have strong links and collaborate on international calibre. Our Consultant Histopathologists are all BAOP members and internationally recognised for their industry expertise. Our Biomedical Scientists are all HCPC registered and have technical knowledge in both diagnostic and research field.


Contact Information

The Department of Eye Pathology

1st floor of the Cayton Street Building

UCL Institute of Ophthalmology

11 - 43 Bath Street London EC1V 9EL United Kingdom

Laboratory Opening Times: 0900 – 1700 hours Monday – Friday, excluding Public/Bank Holidays (England) and occasional UCL closure days. There is no out of hours or weekend service.


General Enquiries:

Tel: 0207 608 6948 Fax No: 0207 6086862

Email: pathadmin.ioo@ucl.ac.uk

Website: https://eyepath.ucl.ac.uk/

Technical Enquires

Tel: 02076086888

Laboratory Manager:

Mr David Essex

Tel: 0207 608 6982

Email: d.essex@ucl.ac.uk

Consultant Ophthalmic Pathologist:

Dr Caroline Thaung

Tel: 0207 608 6890

Email: c.thaung@ucl.ac.uk

Head of Department:

Professor Phil Luthert

Consultant Ophthalmic Pathologist

Tel: 0207 608 6808

Email: p.luthert@ucl.ac.uk