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£500,000 award follows eye surgery complications.

 

A failure by a high street optical laser surgeon to adequately warn a woman patient of the risks and possible complications of proposed surgery has led to a nationally-known company being ordered to pay more than £500,000 damages.

A judge found Optical Express staff in Southampton had failed to properly inform short-sighted antiquarian book dealer, Stephanie Holloway, about her operation which cost her £2,790.

London Central County Court heard that Miss Holloway was left with “hazy vision”’ and her eyes became so light sensitive that she has to constantly wear dark glasses, even in the shower. Her career collapsed and her plans of joining the police were dashed.

Judge Edward Bailey said Miss Holloway had had been “enticed” and “tempted” into Optical Express in 2008 after seeing an advert saying that eye surgery was available from £395. She underwent an operation which “on any objective basis she should never have had.”

Surgeon Dr Joanna McGraw had seen up to 30 patients one the day of Miss Holloway’s appointment and carried out up to 22 operations. She insisted she would have warned Miss Holloway that hers was a very difficult case and that surgery “could have a very bad result”.

But the judge said the consultation may have lasted only three minutes and there was “absolutely no way” in which Dr McGraw could have given Miss Holloway all the important information she needed.

After the operation, “everything was hazy” and Miss Holloway felt “sick and shocked. She went back to the branch and was told by an optometrist not to worry and to “keep taking the drops”.

Various top professionals investigated Miss Holloway’s condition and one expert said it was the worst case of photophobia he had encountered and wrote: “I'm sorry; I'm not able to offer her any further treatment.”

She underwent further “extremely painful” surgery, which was unsuccessful, before being told there was nothing more doctors could do.

The judge said Miss Holloway had sunk into depression after the operation and became “paranoid about going blind”. Ruling both Optical Express and Dr McGraw liable to pay full compensation, the judge said Miss Holloway had at no point been given enough information about the risks of the surgery and possible complications in order to give “informed consent”.

The damages award totalled £569,287, including £30,000 for Miss Holloway's “pain and suffering” and more than £400,000 for her lost earnings.

Richard Wood of the CNCI team said "this surgery has had a devastating outcome for the Claimant. All procedures carry a risk. The Claimant has the right to make an informed decision about whether those risks are worth taking. This award reflects the evidence that this individual was not properly informed".

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