Failure to Explain the Risks of Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery: £21K Compensation Awarded


Legal action following failure to provide information regarding risks of surgery and consent a patient to laser eye surgery.


£21k – Negotiated without Trial.

What Happened

Our client before Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) Surgery required glasses for reading only. Our client wanted to undergo the surgery to avoid the need to wear glasses.

Our client spoke to Optical Express in 2014 and was told that he would be suitable for the surgery. He attended an Optical Express clinic in 2014 where he watched a video on the possible outcome and side effects of the surgery and it suggested that the risks were minimal for the benefits that could be achieved by the surgery. Our client was not made aware of any risks of visual impairment. Our client was provided with paperwork and information on what to expect on the day of the surgery but was not given a consent form.

A couple of weeks after his visit our client had RLE on the left eye at Optical Express.  He was asked about the consent form but informed them that he had not received one. The client was then given the consent form approximately two hours prior to the procedure. The client met with his surgeon around 15-20 minutes prior to the procedure which lasted about five minutes. Our client raised concerns about having only received the consent form that day but he proceeded as he did not have any specific concerns about the consent form. A week later our client had the same procedure on the right eye.

Following the refractive lens exchange surgery, our client’s quality of vision deteriorated, he experienced blurring of his vision and he experienced pain and discomfort in both eyes. This significantly impacted on both our client’s employment and social life. The client struggled to spend large amounts of time in front of a computer and drive at night; both of which are requirements of his employment. Additionally, the client’s passion for golf was ruined by his deteriorating vision.

Our client made numerous complaints to Optical Express following the surgery and voiced his concerns over the quality of his vision. On several occasions, our client was turned away and advised that his issues would improve over time.

Over a period of 7 months, our client attended a branch of Optical Express where he was given trial spectacles and trial contact lenses to help improve his symptoms. Our client’s vision was not improved by either the glasses or the contact lenses and he was left with no resolution to his deteriorated vision.

Following the lack of resolution provided by Optical Express, our client sought help from the General Optical Council who conducted a formal investigation against Optical Express. Despite the client’s concerns regarding the quality of the surgery and aftercare provided by Optical Express, the investigation was terminated and no further action was taken by the GOC.

Despite the unfavourable responses received from both Optical Express and the GOC, the client pursued legal action against Optical Express. Following negotiations between both parties, the claim was settled for £21k without the need to go to Trial. Optical Express denied all liability during the stages of pre-action protocol and upon service of proceedings.

The client commented at the end of the proceedings about his experience with Devonshires Claims: ‘Total professionalism and diligence. Sandra Wheeler was always available to advise and explain and me being a complete layman in this field she always clarified things in the most comprehensive manner.’

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