National Eye Health Week

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Article

21 September, 2021

This week is National Eye Health Week which looks at how important it is to protect our eyesight. Looking after our eyes is vital, especially during the childhood years, while the organs are still developing. Myopia, also known as short-sightedness, is thought to affect one in three people in the UK and usually occurs when the eyes grow slightly too long meaning that light doesn't focus on the light-sensitive tissue (retina) at the back of the eye properly.

It is important to speak to your optician if you think there is a problem with your eyesight. The sooner you get treated, the better, as some adults with severe short-sightedness and young children with untreated short-sightedness are more likely to develop other eye problems.

These can include:

  • a squint - a common childhood condition where the eyes point in different directions
  • a lazy eye - a childhood condition where the vision in one eye doesn't develop properly
  • glaucoma - increased pressure inside the eyes
  • cataracts - where cloudy patches develop inside the lens of the eye
  • retinal detachment - where the retina pulls away from the blood vessels that supply it with oxygen and nutrients

If you are symptomatic, you should contact your doctor or optician promptly for investigation and treatment.

As a clinical negligence solicitor, I see clients when something has gone wrong, often with serious consequences. Our eyes are vital, and a negligent mistake can be life changing.

Case Study

In 2018 the claimant attended her local optician with a complaint of blurred vision and a floater in one eye. They were examined and the visual acuity was recorded in each eye. The claimant was found to have lens opacity in each eye. It was alleged there was a failure to dilate the pupils or examine the retina. There was no examination of the visual fields, and no further investigations were recommended.

13 days later they returned to the opticians complaining that the sight in one eye was getting worse and that there was a glaze over the eye. They were examined again. The optician did not look at the notes from the previous visit. On examination the condition appeared to be the same, however the visual acuity had deteriorated in one eye. There was no further investigation to explain the worsening symptoms and there was a suggestion they were caused by a cataract. The following day the claimant attended again, complaining of worsening blurred vision. Nothing was done.

The claimant telephoned three days later and was advised to contact the accident and emergency department. The claimant believed they were waiting for cataract surgery and wanted reassurance that the eye was okay. The claimant saw another optician who carried out a very thorough examination and concluded that there was a retinal attachment. The claimant was immediately referred to hospital where attempts were made to treat the detached retina. Unfortunately, they were unable to improve the sight in the right eye and the claimant was left with a permanent loss of vision, leaving them with difficulties navigating, judging distances and work.

Liability was denied however the opticians insurers agreed to settle the claim in the sum of £107,000 - £30,000 of which represented general damages, the balance in relation to loss of earnings, care and assistance.

For more information contact Leonie Millard in our Clinical Negligence department via email or phone on 01254 770517. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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