Eye spy Ophthalmology

Helping patients find their way to the Mater Eye
(Ophthalmology) department.


2022 - ongoing


Mater Ophthalmology team




Each year, over 72,000 patients attend the Mater Ophthalmology (eye) department for outpatient and day surgery appointments. This accounts for one fifth of the total patient footfall attending the hospital.

The department has expanded significantly over time and is now split over three different locations making it challenging to navigate. Patients rely on instructions in their appointment letters and hospital signage to figure out where they should be.

Shortcomings in both of these result in patients having to ask staff multiple times for help. Many of the patients have mild to moderate visual impairments, further exacerbating the problem and
increasing anxiety.


We are preparing to test a new wayfinding system and improved patient letters, to help patients get to their appointment without the stress.

The solutions are based on both wayfinding and accessibility best practices, and rooted in research of patients’ needs. The team is also exploring other communication channels such as text messages for our eye emergency patients, and other technologies such as NaviLens and Indoor Google Maps.
Key Insights
Using Latin terms - like Ophthalmology - is common practice in hospitals. Yet in our survey 51% of patients did not know what ‘Ophthalmology’ meant.
Our research showed that patients generally needed to ask for directions multiple times 
Patient letters don’t help patients find where they need to go. Letters are cluttered, with poor location labels which don’t relate well to the signage system in the hospital.
Patient letter

“My son had to Google what Ophthalmology means”

Eye Patient

“I walk out of my office and I see lost people”

Staff member

‘'I must have asked ten people how do I get to St Elizabeth’s, eventually someone just brought me there”

Eye Patient

“The signage was confusing especially when comparing it to the letter”

Eye patient

“I didn’t really read the letter, all I took note of was the time and date”

Eye Patient


This challenge was originally researched during the Mater-NCAD Design Week in 2018. The four design students interviewed staff and patients to understand their needs.

They also completed a ‘bodystorming’ exercise, where they tried to find their way to various locations while wearing empathy glasses that mimic various eye conditions.

The project was picked up again in 2022 by our design team at Mater Transformation. The final design will be tested and rolled out in 2023.
The project was picked up again in 2022, when our design team at Mater Transformation, with continued support from NCAD resumed the research, unlocking new insights for consideration. The final design is now near ready and will be tested and rolled out in 2023. 

Concept Images