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Calls for laser surgery reform after claimant wins case

8th Oct 2014

A high street optician has been ordered to pay more than £500,000 in damages after a failed surgery, and now lawyers are calling for a reform of the law.

Optical Express, a high street optician, has had to pay more than £500,000 after Stephanie Holloway was left with ruined eyesight following the laser eye surgery she had in 2008.

Following the surgery, Holloway was left with ‘corneal haze and regression’, forcing her to wear dark glasses all the time as she is now so sensitive to light.

During the case, Judge Edward Bailey also ruled that Holloway should not have been made to pay £2790 for the operation, when adverts for the surgery claim the costs can start from £395. He added that she had been ‘tempted’ into going ahead with the procedure, and that the company’s behaviour was not up to standard.

Criticising the guidance Optical Express give to their staff, which includes reducing price objections by ‘reassuring customers they are in excellent hands’, Judge Bailey also noted that it was inappropriate for the patient to sign a consent form immediately before the surgery.

Now, Devonshires Solicitors, who represented Holloway in the case, have stated that they are seeing an increase in the number of patients seeking compensation for damage caused by laser eye surgery, and believes the industry needs better regulation.

Daniel Clifford, head of clinical negligence at the firm, is concerned that doctors are not treating their patients properly, only driven by profit. The current guidelines only suggest that an appointment should be made with a surgeon before the day of the surgery, but Clifford believes this should be mandatory. The firm is also pursuing a ‘cooling-off’ period, allowing at least a seven day period between the initial consultation and the actual surgery.

Holloway is pleased with the result, and thankful that the case is now over, so she can put the experience behind her. Optical Express has indicated that it may appeal the ruling.