The eyes have it: What to do when your eye operation goes wrong
It seems like nowadays we are constantly surrounded by screens. Computer screens, television screens, iPhone screens, it’s never ending and it’s not always comfortable. Women who work in front of a computer all day may start to experience bothersome syndromes such as eye fatigue, burning and itchy eyes, blurred vision and sensitivity to bright light. This even has its own official name: computer vision syndrome. (I’m waiting for the day that smart phone vision syndrome is a thing…)
While glasses and contacts can be temporary solutions, some professionals find it convenient to go through eye surgery to improve their eyesight.
Ask anyone which sense is most important to them, and they will probably say their eyesight. A survey in the US, for example, found 82% of people feared losing their sight, while just 8% said hearing, 3% said smell and 2% said they worried about losing their sense of touch or taste.
But, we put our precious sight into the hands of others for all sorts of reasons, whether we are looking to improve failing vision or we need an operation to correct damage or try to repair an injury. And while most procedures are successful, leaving patients happy with the results, surgery to the eye can, and does, go wrong.
In one unfortunate example, a former antiques buyer has just launched a lawsuit against Optical Express after being left with such severe sensitivity to light that she has to wear sunglasses pretty much all of the time, even in the shower.
Stephanie Holloway is suiting the high street chain for £1million, saying the procedure she paid £2,900 for went so wrong she is now unable to fulfil her ambition of becoming a police officer.
DMC Optical, the firm behind Optical Express, has claimed Miss Holloway was clearly warned about the risks and is exaggerating her post-procedure symptoms.
Sadly, problems with laser eye surgery affect so many, there’s even a website called opticalexpressruinedmylife.com (I promise, it’s real), even though the firm tried to have it taken offline.
In another series of cases, patients are having their cataract operations reviewed after some had problems with their eyes following surgery at a private hospital, which was contracted by the NHS to carry out procedures.
A mum-of-three who blogs about family life has told of her experiences of laser surgery. On the Freckles family blog, she tells how she was left feeling as if she was wearing the wrong glasses after a surgeon made her left eye worse than before. “I was devastated,” she says. “I felt really foolish for going ahead with the procedure and was very frightened.”
So, just what are your rights when it comes to undergoing eye surgery?
No procedure is without risk, of course, but the important thing is you know what those risks are and you’re able to make an informed decision about whether you’re prepared to take them.
An investigation found a third of people weren’t told properly about the potential dangers of laser eye surgery, which include poor night vision, growths on the eye, double vision, eyelid inflammation and, in the worst case scenario, loss of sight.
Cataract surgery can result in cloudy vision, swelling, infection or, in one in 1,000 cases, a loss of vision.
If you’re one of the very unlucky ones, the NHS has a constitution which gives you the right to have your complaint properly investigated, to take your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman if you’re not happy with the way it has been dealt with and, ultimately, to receive compensation if you’ve suffered harm.
If you have opted for a private company to have your procedure carried out, you’re still entitled to redress if something goes wrong. An injury or worsening of vision caused by eye surgery can have a devastating impact on every walk of life, from family time to work and hobbies.
Then, there are mistakes made by an optician. Perhaps they have failed to diagnose an eye condition which could have been spotted during an exam, or maybe you have been prescribed lenses unsuitable for your eye type.
When your eyes haven’t been treated with the care you deserve, you may be entitled to compensation depending on what harm you have suffered, any out of pocket expenses you’ve incurred or any income you’ve lost, or will lose.
No matter what your day entails, your eyesight is important and it’s necessary to arm yourself with all the facts before placing your eyes in the care of an optician or surgeon. Don’t worry, we’ve got our eyes on you.