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Ophthalmic Claims

Loss of sight can be devastating and very difficult to accept. It can leave you shocked, scared, angry, depressed and you can suffer a loss of identity, similar to the grief process.

There are many causes of sight loss, and some conditions cannot be treated, resulting in low vision or blindness and are not caused by any medical negligence. But, serious medical mistakes, can and do, happen.

Typical mistakes that can give rise to a claim include the following:

Lasik/Lasek Eye Surgery

There are two main types of laser eye surgery used:

  • 1. With LASIK the surgeon creates a small flap in the cornea and peels it back to reveal the corneal tissue. A laser then reshapes the deeper layer of the cornea (stroma) and then the surgeon puts that flap back in its original position.
  • 2. With LASEK no flap is created but the surgeon will loosen the outermost layer of the cornea (epithelium) with an alcohol solution. Once the cornea has been reshaped the epithelium is put back in place.

Common Errors in Laser Surgery Include:

  • Failure to fully explain the complications associated with laser eye surgery
  • Failure to explain that it can exacerbate any pre-existing dry eye condition
  • Full thickness corneal laceration causing a permanent reduction in sight and higher risk of glaucoma, uveitis, retinal detachment
  • Failure to perform the correct surgery
  • Failing to perform the surgery correctly
  • Failing to explain that you may never be able to achieve what you want from the surgery because you need more than the maximum of three dioptres of correction that can be offered
  • Failing to obtain informed consent
  • Failing to diagnose and/or treat infection resulting in loss of vision

Cataract Surgery

A Cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision and is usually related to aging.

Cataract is usually diagnosed following an eye exam that includes: 

  • Visual acuity test – using an eye chart that measures how well you see at various distances
  • Dilated eye exam – drops are put into your eyes to widen the pupils so that the Optometrist/Ophthalmologist can examine your retina and optic nerve for any signs of damage and other eye problems
  • Tonometry - to measure the pressure inside your eye

Surgery to remove cataract is very common and in the majority of cases very successful, but no operation or procedure is risk free and sometimes you may develop complications simply because of the surgery itself and not as a result of any medical negligence. However, serious medical mistakes, can and do, happen.

Common Errors Include:

  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Damage to other parts of the eye
  • Falling to provide adequate follow up care
  • Failing to diagnose and/or treat infection resulting in loss of vision
  • Failing to recognise and/or treat retinal detachment
  • Inserting the wrong lens
  • Inserting the lens in the wrong position

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve. There is no cure.

Often there are no early symptoms and you may not realise that you have Glaucoma as it is a painless disease and your side vision (peripheral) is damaged first. Glaucoma causes permanent sight loss and whilst it is not possible to restore sight lost because of Glaucoma, early diagnosis and treatment can help to prevent further damage and sight loss from happening.

Glaucoma is usually diagnosed on a routine eye examination, so regular eye tests are essential.

The aim of treatment is to reduce the pressure in your eye which can be done with laser treatment or by making a cut in the eye.

Common Errors Include:

  • Failing to perform an adequate examination
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Failing to refer for ophthalmic review
  • Failing to monitor and control eye pressure
  • Failing to refer for surgery as soon as possible
  • Operating on the wrong eye

Detached Retina

Retinal detachment is a medical emergency which causes partial or total loss of sight when the retina separates from the back of the eye.

Warning signs that you may be at risk of suffering a detached retina include:

  • The sudden appearance of black dots or specks (called floaters) in your field of vision
  • A cobweb of lots of little floaters or one large floater
  • Short flashes of bright light in the affected eye
  • Loss of central vision
  • Loss of peripheral vision (side vision)
  • Blurring of vision

You should seek urgent medical help if you suffer any of these warning signs because the quicker you receive treatment the less damage occurs. Any delay in diagnosis or treatment can have life-changing consequences.

Common Errors:

  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Failing to diagnose retinal detachment
  • Failing to treat retinal detachment
  • Failing to refer to an appropriate specialist

Eye Muscle Surgery (Strabismus Treatment)

Strabismus (squint) refers to misaligned or crossed eyes. Strabismus surgery detaches, cuts and reattaches eye muscles.

Although generally safe, no operation or procedure is risk free and there are a number of complications that can occur after strabismus surgery. Sometimes you may develop complications simply because of the surgery itself and not as a result of any medical negligence, but medical accidents do happen.

Common Errors:

  • Surgery on the wrong eye/muscle
  • Damage to the sclera (white part of the eye) or optic nerve
  • Perforation of the posterior eyeball (Tendon’s capsule)
  • Damage to the blood supply going to the front of the eye causing blindness
  • Failing to adequately reattach muscles during surgery causing the muscle to detach and slip
  • Failing to diagnose and/or treat infection such as orbital cellulitis

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD is more common in people over 50 and it is estimated that 1 in every 10 people over 65 have some degree of AMD.

AMD may be an incidental finding on a routine eye exam or you may notice blurring or distortion of vision and have difficulty in performing daily activities such as driving, reading and recognising faces.

It is a painless eye condition for which there is no cure, but early diagnosis and treatment is essential to reduce the risk of sight loss.

Common Errors:

  • Failing to diagnose AMD
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Failing to refer promptly
  • Misdiagnosis and incorrect treatment

How Can We Help You? 

When medical treatment goes wrong, only lawyers with expert legal knowledge will do. Here at Joseph James Law we recognise the devastating effect that loss of sight can have. We understand that a serious injury can be a severe financial, physical and psychological burden on the whole family. We understand the importance of compensation and can help you obtain a settlement that will help with any financial and future care needs that you may have.

For a free and confidential assessment of your potential claim by our Specialist Clinical Negligence Solicitors please contact us on Freephone 0800 999 1234.

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