Laser eye surgery compensation claims
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A growing number of people in the UK are deciding to do away with glasses altogether and opting for corrective laser eye surgery instead to treat both short and long sightedness.
According to the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, there are now approximately 120,000 laser eye surgery procedures carried out in the UK every year – which is over 300 every single day.
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How does laser eye surgery work?
Laser eye surgery is used to permanently correct certain vision problems, completely removing the need to wear spectacles or contact lenses. The most common form of laser eye surgery is known a LASIK – or laser in-situ keratomileusis – which involves a laser being used to reshape the patients cornea. Other popular types of laser eye surgery include LASEK (laser epithelial keratomileusi) and PRK (photorefractive keratectomy).
As laser eye surgery is considered a ‘non-essential’ procedure, it is not usually available on the NHS. Therefore patients must seek private practitioners, and with demand ever increasing the costs of laser eye surgery are becoming more and more affordable.
Laser eye surgery does not have to be carried out by an actual ophthalmic surgeon or indeed someone with a specialist knowledge of laser refraction techniques and technology. All this is required of a person to carry our laser eye surgery is that they are a registered medical doctor.
What can go wrong with laser eye surgery?
The majority of laser eye surgery procedures in the UK are a success and are carried out with any complications. However, as many as 1 in 20 procedures lead to complications, many of which can be due to errors made by the surgeon.
Some of the more common complications following laser eye surgery include:
- Night vision difficulties
- Corneal scarring
- Corneal infections
- Astigmatism, causing ghost or double vision
- Corneal haze (mistiness)
- Sensitivity to glare
- Ptosis (eye lid drooping)
- Over or under correction
- Dry eyes due to damaged tear ducts
- Blindness – partial or complete
If you have suffered complication following a laser eye surgery procedure, then you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation. In order to make a compensation claim it must be shown that your surgeon acted negligently in their delivery of your surgery. Laser eye surgery falls under the area of medical negligence and can happen in a number of ways, for instance:
- Surgical error
- Your suitability for the surgery not being determined correctly before the procedure
- Inaccurate information given about the potential risks of the surgery
- The use of defective laser equipment
- A poor standard of post-operative care.
- Failure by your optician to refer you to an appropriate specialist for treatment
- Failure to diagnose a detached retina and subsequently treat the issue
- Performing laser eye surgery under inappropriate circumstances
- Failure to properly treat treatable cataracts
How much compensation for a laser eye surgery claim?
As the injuries caused by laser eye surgery can vary in their severity, the compensation payouts can also vary massively. Therefore it is not possible to give an accurate estimate of how much compensation you may be awarded for a successful laser eye surgery claim.
However, there are certain industry acknowledged figures provided by the Judicial College which cover eye injuries in general, so they can give you an idea about how much compensation you could be entitled to*:
- Minor eye injuries – last for a few weeks with no permanent symptoms: £1,450 – £2,600
- Minor injury causing initial pain and temporary vision problems: £2,650 – £5,750
- Permanent vision problems in one eye but not complete loss of vision (depending on severity): £8250 – £25,750
- Blindness in one eye: up to £36,000
- Blindness in both eyes: In the region of £175,000
*please note that these figures are for guidance only and the compensation that you receive may be outside of these guidelines.
Compensation payouts are typically made up of two types of damages: “General damages” and “Special damage”.
General damages compensate the patient for the pain and suffering they have endured as a result of their injuries, while special damages are designed to reimburse any financial losses incurred due to the injuries, such as:
- loss of earnings during the recovery period and in the future
- the cost of medical treatment and care
- any other costs or expenses resulting from the surgery, such as travel expenses to and from hospital.
Laser eye surgery claims process
When you decide to go ahead and make a laser eye surgery compensation claim you will be asked to go through the history of the case and all the subsequent complications you have experienced since the surgery. In most cases your medical records will be needed in relation to your case, and you may also need to be assessed by a third party medical or ophthalmic expert so the full extent of your injuries can be ascertained.
There is nothing to be concerned about with this stage, as it actually helps to have a medical expert on your side and they can also help assess the correct amount of compensation you should be entitled to.
We will discuss all the options available to you in terms of your claim, and we will begin to contact all third parties involved in the process to notify them that you will be making a claim.
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