Annie's Story

I attended my first consultation with Fiona Patterson at Optical Express Gateshead Metro Centre branch in July 2010 and was very excited at the prospect of not wearing glasses.

I was informed after many tests I was suitable for Wavefront Intralase Lasik eye surgery. I was also informed they could not guarantee that I would be specs free for reading but if I did need them they would probably be just specs off the shelf and this was only because of my age (54). They could however guarantee I would have perfect distance vision after the surgery. I was delighted. I asked about the risks and was told that some people sometimes need a second enhancement surgery but that because I was having the Wavefront Intralase it was rare and I had nothing to worry about. I was given a price for my surgery and I signed the finance forms. At this point the consent form was no where in sight. The first available date was at their Newcastle branch and I agreed to travel as I wanted it done as soon as possible.
 
August 10th 2010
I arrived at Newcastle Optical Express having prepared myself for my surgery. I was very nervous and apprehensive but also excited that I was going to be able to see without glasses for the first time in years.  As soon as I arrived I was given a consent form and asked to sign it before I was taken in to see the consultant Mr Evanagelos Minos. It all seemed very rushed with no time to stop and think about it but I signed where they told me to sign anyway and gave it back. I was taken in to see Mr Minos and after looking at my tests he went on to tell me he could not do the procedure I had signed up for and would have to do a different procedure, which would cost me more and unfortunately I would have to decide and pay for it that same day. I was devastated. I did'nt know what to do. The procedure he wanted to do was  Intralase laser method of flap creation. I did not understand as it sounded the same as I had signed up for. Apparently it is not!! Words and procedures were thrown at me that I did not fully understand and I felt really stressed and  pressured into making a decision that I did not have time to think about. I should have returned home to think about it, but I did'nt, he was sitting watching me, waiting for my decision. I decided to go ahead anyway and was quickly led back into the waiting room  while they crossed out all the figures on the original finance form that I had signed at my initial consultation and they  wrote the new figures alongside the crossed out figures.They asked me to intial all the crossed out figures which I did.  The surgeon had hand written the change of procedure on my consent form after I signed it as it had been signed before I spoke to him. By this time I was very nervous and a very annoyed about the changes.  I made it known how I felt to one of the staff, but she said sometimes it happens and not to worry it would be fine. I had met the surgeon and was with him only enough time for him to tell me about the change in price and change of procedure. The next time I saw him was when he performed the eye surgery. I could not believe how fast it all happened. Afterwards I was given some drops and goggles with instructions on how to use them and told I could go home.
Next day my sight seemed  good, although it was still uncomfortable I could see without specs. I went to their Metro Centre Gateshead branch for my post ops appointments as it was closer to home. I do not remember how long after my surgery that my sight started to deteriorate  but it deteriorated rapidly.  My eyes were starting to water and were becoming very stingy. I also had to return to the clinic between regular appointments as my eyes had become very sticky with discharge coming from them. I was given drops and told constantly this was normal. I was informed at a later appointment that once my eyesight stabilised I would have to have an enhancement done, I was amazed as I had been led to believe this rarely happened especially with the procedure they had opted to do on me.  I mentioned this and they told me not to worry as sometimes they had to give your eyes an extra little "tweak" their expression not mine. They were so complacent about it that I thought that maybe I did'nt have anything to worry about. I was given temporary specs to use which did not help as my eyesight was so unstable on a daily basis. Everything seemed to be getting worse I was given more drops for dry itchy eyes which I had to administer several times a day. When my eyes did stabilised I was put forward for an enhancement.
 
October 10th 2011
I arrived at Metro Centre Gateshead clinic for my enhancement surgery which was Lasek. I was given my consent form to sign while someone sat with me waiting for it to be given back to her. While I was there I noticed others signing their consent forms too. I met my surgeon in the corridor Mr Stefan Klopper who then showed me through to the procedure room and went on to perform the procedure. In total I must have been with my surgeon approximately 5 minutes and that includes the time for the procedure. I am being generous with 5 minutes it was probably less. Afterwards I was taken to another room given drops and told I could go home, I could'nt believe how quickly it all happened. My eyes were not good right from the beginning. They had to delay the removal of the contact lens because of loose lens debris. The lens removal was not done until 17th October and my vision was still very blurred. My vision and discomfort continued to deteriorate rapidly. I was attending their Metro Centre clinic for all my follow up appointments aswell, after I had attended one of my appointments I was asked to phone or call into the clinic the following week to book my next appointment which I agreed to do. When I returned the following week the clinic had closed down. I was panic stricken the shop was completely empty. I phoned their head office and they informed me that unfortunately they had to close the branch. I asked why they had not informed me, and I was told they would have got round to me eventually.  My appointments were then transfered to Newcastle so I now had to travel again for my appointments.  At one follow up appointment at Newcastle I was told I had cataract on my eyes and the following week I saw someone different again and I asked about the cataract, he told me I did not have cataract, I asked why I was told I had the previous week and he just shrugged his shoulders and said he had no idea. I was amazed suddenly the cataract had just dissappeared without a trace!! I was then told at a later appointment I would need to have a further enhancement done and this time it would be Refractive Lens Exchange. This I was very wary of as I already had many problems from the previous procedures. I asked what my options would be if I did not want to have this done and was informed I would have to wear prescription glasses for distance and reading, I was devastated, I was back to where I started but with all of these extra problems. I asked if Optical Express would pay for these glasses and was informed they would not. I refused the procedure and whilst looking up Optical Express's complaints procedures as I felt they were just dismissing all the problems I had and because I did'nt want to risk any further surgery they were basically washing their hands of me, I found Sasha's site Optical Express ruined my life and thats when I found out I was'nt alone. Sasha helped me to inform and ask Optical Express for a refund. They declined of course and still offered me the RLE procedure but to be performed in Edinburgh with a surgeon that was already being sued by other patients. I obviously declined their offer. They asked me if I would see Professor Jan Venter in Harley Street. I agreed I would.
 
September 17th 2013
I arrived at the Harley Street clinic and was taken away for the usual tests. I then went through for my eye sight test. In attendance at this eye test was David Mungall (patient care manager) which made me laugh because I did'nt think they had a care department never mind a manager of it, and Stephen Hannan (clinical service director). Mr Hannan proceeded with my eye test which I have to say was very fast, then I was taken in to see Professor Venter with David Mungall in attendance. Professor Venter explained to me that I would be a higher risk patient because of my previous procedures. I asked him if he could guarrantee my eyes would be fixed after the RLE procedure and he could not. I also asked him why I was not informed at my initial consultation 3 years ago that all the problems I was suffering could happen. He could not give me an answer. He could only tell me that if I decided to have RLE it could make my problems worse. He told me to go home and think about what he had told me.
I arranged to phone or e-mail David Mungall the following week. I e-mailed him and informed him I did not want to go ahead with RLE as I valued the sight I had left too highly and that there were too many risks involved. I asked him where do we go from here?  He e-mailed back saying he would disscuss it with his colleagues and get back to me the following week but he asked if he could telephone me instead of e-mails. I agreed. We arranged a day when he would call.
He rang me and asked me what I wanted from Optical Express I said they had not kept up their agreement of giving me perfect sight for distance and that I wanted a refund and he replied I had signed the consent form and the risks were listed in it. I told him all the problems I had been left with and again he said you signed the form. He also informed me I had 20/20 vision, I am afraid I just laughed at him as I believe if I had 20/20 vision then I would not need a lens replacement. He said he would speak to his colleagues again and ring me. We arranged a day when he would call.

He did not call.

I e-mailed  Mr Mungall stating I was disgusted he had not rang and that I wanted all future correspondence via e-mail. He e-mailed me and gave an excuse for not ringing, he said they were prepared to give me vouchers to spend on glasses at any Optical Express branch but nothing more. I declined. I also asked him why he would presume I would come back to Optical Express for anything especially when they were now telling me I had 20/20 vision. I asked for my medical notes from Harley Street to be sent to me and of course they said I would have to pay for them. I paid up and they have since arrived and in those notes Professor Venter states that he advises no more LVC due to steep corneas, and does not recommend RLE as it would be difficult to calculate and would make my eye problems worse than they are. He recommends NO FURTHER TREATMENT.

That is my story and where I am at this moment in time. Three years on and I wish I had never heard about Laser eye surgery. I have constant dry itchy eyes, I have to put drops in my eyes every day, I have shadows around shapes and letters, I cannot stand the bright sunlight or headlights, I have headaches everyday and my vision is blurred. My problems just keep growing as time goes on.

I only have one thing left to say and it is.... if you are thinking of having any kind of laser eye surgery with Optical Express - DO NOT EVEN CONSIDER IT, ONCE THEY HAVE YOUR MONEY THEY DO NOT CARE.    

I still have another year left to pay for mine, but will be paying with the problems I'm left with for the rest of my life. If I could turn back the clock back 3 years I would not have laser eye surgery done.