Joan's Story: Loss of Eyesight After Failure to Adequately Monitor Glaucoma
We were successful in achieving a settlement of £50,000 for Joan* in a claim relating to treatment provided by Vision Express (UK) Ltd.
Joan attended a branch of Vision Express in 23 April 2005. Her intraocular pressures were slightly raised and she was advised that they would need to be monitored. There does not appear to have been any follow up and when she attended on 1 April 2007, the pressures were raised again but she did not receive any treatment. She re-attended on 4 July 2008 experiencing blurred vision in the right eye. Again, intraocular pressures were raised but she did not receive any treatment.
Joan returned to the branch on 21 July 2010 and raised the issue of blurred vision and dull ache around the eye lids. Again, intraocular pressures were raised and a visual field test on 21 January 2010 showed significant visual loss in the right eye.
Joan attended the Bristol Eye Hospital on 21 January 2010 when a diagnosis of primary and open angle glaucoma was made and she was commenced on topical medication.
Joan continued to attend follow up appointments and treatment and despite being treated with a variety of topical medications, the intraocular pressure had increased to around 55mm Hg in the right eye and the option of trabeculectomy surgery was discussed. Although surgery was arranged for 10 March 2013, Joan became anxious and the surgery was delayed until 12 May 2011.
A good recovery was made following the operation but Joan then developed a cataract in the right eye. Cataract surgery was discussed but Joan was warned of the risk of the trabeculectomy function deteriorating. As a result, she decided to decline surgery. She underwent surgery on 14 June 2012 for needling, as her right trabeculectomy was no longer functioning and she underwent a 5fu injection for her right bleb. Joan suffered complications following the surgery and a further operation was undertaken on 11 December 2012 when she underwent a right phacoemulsification and IOL bleb revision. Unfortunately this surgery failed and as a result of this operation, our client’s eye became weak and she suffered a cosmetic defect in that the eyelid had dropped. She underwent a blephroplasty operation on 6 October 2014.
The basis of the claim is that had Joan been referred to her GP or specialist eye hospital, she would have undergone tests and a diagnosis would have been made of open angle glaucoma. This would have been controlled by topical medication and would have avoided any deterioration. Surgery would also not have been required. If Joan had been referred in 2007 or 2008, any visual field loss would not have occurred.
Solicitors who were acting on behalf of Vision Express asked if we would agree an extension of time for service of the Defence so that we could try and negotiate a settlement. The defendant made an offer in the sum of £28,500 but after having obtained Counsel’s Advice, we decided to put forward a Part 36 Offer in the sum of £50,000. We spoke with the Solicitors prior to doing so and they confirmed that they were willing to increase to £40,000. After pressing them further it was agreed that settlement could be achieved in the sum of £45,000.
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*Joan is a pseudonym to preserve anonymity.