Medical advances in recent years have led to a surge in the number of patients seeking surgical correction of naturally occurring problems with vision. Such surgery carries inherent risks and complications. The risks are often low, but depend on the clinician properly exploring and considering each patient’s individual history, condition and expectations to ensure that appropriate advice is given and treatment tailored according to their needs. For some, surgery should never be offered; for others, the risks are greater because of pre-existing conditions.
Inevitably as the number of procedures increases, so the number of patients dissatisfied with their outcome is also on the rise. The majority of people value their sight above their other senses so when vision is impaired, the impact is devastating.
Penningtons Manches has a team of clinical negligence and personal injury solicitors who focus on claims involving damage to vision, including from ophthalmic treatment. Senior associate Andrew Clayton, who leads the specialist ophthalmic team, comments: “We are seeing an increase in enquiries and claims where treatment has caused damage to eyesight. With a growing range of providers and an explosion of options on the High Street, ensuring proper protection for patients is more paramount than ever. Sometimes a poor outcome is in line with the risks and complications inherent in these procedures, but we are encountering more people who do not feel they were properly counselled in the risks before they agreed to go ahead. There are others who should not be offered surgery in the first place.
“The driver for many who seek our advice on a potential claim is often the catastrophic effect on their life. Common issues include loss of employment, an inability to manage independently and a deep fear of what the future holds. Visual impairment can easily lead to social isolation and can adversely affect mental health, too.
“Aside from advising on the legal technicalities, our aim is to provide practical support to improve day-to-day living. We explore the options to improve each client’s physical and psychological outcome wherever possible and the array of adaptive and technological aids and equipment that can help them cope.
“Recent examples include obtaining support from a carer to give a client confidence to go outside their home and socialise again; installing voice-activated devices to monitor and control the home environment, including heating, lighting and security; acquiring funds for devices with enhanced screen technology for reading, writing and entertainment; introducing regimes for home help, including cleaners, gardeners and taxis/ private drivers; and in one case, even sourcing a pet for companionship. Adjusting to life with visual impairment is daunting, but there are many improvements, large and small, that can make it more bearable.”
Penningtons Manches’ specialist ophthalmic team welcomes enquiries from anyone concerned about their ophthalmic management or in relation to an eye injury. Initial advice is offered free of charge and with no obligation while a range of funding options, including conditional fee agreements, are available to those who wish to proceed with a claim.