I had my lens implant surgery in October 2003, so I believe I was also one of the first to get it done. 18 years later, last month in May 2021, my elderly mother and father got a phone call from Optimax asking for me. I had since moved to Ireland and had children etc. They passed on my details and I received a voicemail saying it was extremely important for me to get my cell count checked and they sent me a letter to the same effect.
I visited the Optimax surgery in Belfast where they were unable to count cells in one of my eyes. The optometrist said she wanted a 2nd opinion because she was worried the count was low and that she'd discuss with the practice manager and get back to me.
Yesterday I had a phone call from the manager who said she had talked to a consultant and both lenses would need to be explanted. Needless to say I was in complete shock as 1) This is the first time I've ever heard anything from Optimax in 17 years 2) This is the first time I've heard about the importance of endothellial cell count checks 3) There was never any mention of the lenses ever having to be removed when I had them done.
I'm extremely upset and worried about this as my cells have been damaged by having the lenses in for so long. Someone should have contacted me years ago to discuss this new information about cell counts then I would have had them checked regularly. I've literally heard nothing from them in 17 years.
I now have to travel to London from Ireland, at my own expense, to have the surgery which will leave me with my former terrible eyesight. Also I'm worried about the future health of my eyes once the surgery has been completed as my cell count is so low. This is an absolute disaster and I've shed tears over the whole debacle. I am currently seeking a 2nd opinion/advice about the after effects of the surgery and will also be seeking legal advice. Has anyone had both of theirs explanted? How did it go? Did you seek legal advice?
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A serious incident with a patient who’d been fitted with IOLs at their clinic in the early noughties lead to Optimax urgently trying to recently contact ALL patients fitted with these Artiflex lenses!*
Patients were not warned at the time of the risks, nor that they urgently need to have an Endothelial cell count check (ECC) annually, and thanks to their details not being entered into the Optimax computer correctly many are STILL unaware that they risk the possibility of a corneal transplant if left unchecked!!
Neerja was one of these patients (eyes pictured), and last month she underwent extremely distressing and painful surgery to remove the lens from her left eye after discovering that her cell count had dropped:
Meanwhile, Optimax continue to promote these unnecessary and highly risky operations as being safe - they are not!
I went to Optimax after seeing an advertisement about laser surgery in 1997.
I was very short sighted in both eyes, about minus 8 diopters. I was under the care of Eammon Hynes at Optimax Manchester clinic and he was very reassuring about the planned procedures.
I had my non-dominant right eye treated with PRK [lasek]. Although the outcome was good at 00 diopters, my astigmatism had worsened to the extent of 1.5 and I was one line off the 20 vision.
I wanted to leave it at that and take advantage of the new LASIK treatment for my left eye, but Eammon Hynes convinced me that further correction was not a problem.
I had a second PRK procedure, which made matters worse - my astigmatism had worsened to 2.25 although the power correction was good.
The problems with my vision had begun to affect my quality of life so I went for a third PRK treatment, which I was again assured would be minor “only 25 seconds with the laser”. The outcome was terrible. The laser had bubbled my cornea with its heat and I now had a diagonal strip across my whole eye, which blurred my vision. Eammon Hynes' confidence in the procedure was unfounded.
At this point I was referred to Chad Rostron in Harley Street for a Corneal graft. Optimax said they would pay for any remedial work but no apology was forthcoming.
I had a partial thickness graft in early 2003 and although there was some doubt initially whether a graft could be found one was obtained and the operation went ahead in London.
Although the usual assurances were given, after 6 months the vision in my right eye was terrible. In fact it wasn’t long before I kept my right eye closed all the time as I could not see out of it and it was more comfortable to keep it permanently closed.
A further operation was carried out with a full thickness graft in October 2003. A few weeks after this my eye rejected the graft. I saw Chad once more (an incompetent fool) and he said I might lose the eye.
A month later I was given a Botox injection by Mr Muhtaseb which closed my eyelid to help the eye heal. The pain was terrible and I had to lie on my back most of the time. Eventually in December I tried to contact Chad Rostron but he was out of the country.
Optimax paid all my travelling expenses up to this time. But as my eye was becoming unbearably painful I was finding it increasingly difficult to travel between my home in North Yorkshire and London, so I asked Optimax if there was someone nearer my home I could be referred to.
Chad Rostron’s registrar at St. George’s Hospital in Tooting, where I had been going for treatment in Chad’s absence, had mentioned a Mr Bruce Noble as being someone I could go to, and I asked Optimax if I could be transferred there, and they agreed. I saw Mr Noble at his private clinic in late December 2003.
Mr Noble was horrified at the condition of my eye. The graft was sloughing off and was just held on by mucus. Within three days of the consultation I was admitted to Leeds General Hospital and given another emergency corneal graft.
Mr Noble said that private medicine could not cope with my situation and he gave me a 50/50 chance of saving my eye. From that time on my care has been provided by the NHS.
Since then I have had various other procedures on my right eye, none of them successful.
In September 2017 my corneal graft was very thin and patchy, in a state of decompensation. The worst part (thinnest) of it was superglued and a bandage contact lens placed over it to protect my eyelids. (This was done once before in 2009 but the glue failed to allow healing of the cornea and another graft was put on by another operation in short measure)
In this case I had only weeks to find out if the graft would heal, but I was not hopeful. The glue would eventually fall off and the graft not heal.
I emailed Russell Ambrose on the 4 September 2017:
“I had laser surgery a while ago now on my right eye and after five corneal grafts my latest one is in a state of decomposition with little eye pressure.
My consultant Mr Ball at St James recommends replacing my eye with a prosthetic in the coming week and I do not wish this to happen if at all possible. Can you help?”
“I am very sorry to hear this.
I will ask my senior doctor to comment but I am not hopeful of a positive outcome.
Please note that my doctors are not corneal graft specialists.
Mr Ball has a good reputation and I suggest that you also ask him to recommend another surgeon for a review of your options.”
In 2018 my right eye was removed.
Russell Ambrose offered to pay for this privately, but my NHS consultant refused.
I now have glaucoma in my remaining eye and am registered as visually impaired.
Needless to say, I have received no compensation from Optimax even though I lost my eye due to the surgery they sold me, and up to the present day no-one at Optimax has ever followed up my case or given any intimation that they are interested.
But then, perhaps they don’t want to hear about the failures.
You too can have laser eye treatment at Optimax and end up with one of these. I did.
It’s been 8 days since I went back to Optimax for my lens explant, the worst experience of my life! I am still in disbelief, and I was scared and dreading the procedure but I knew that I had to go through with it even though it was the last thing I wanted.
Before I underwent the implant surgery in 2005 I was informed that the ICL could only move out of place if I received a blow to the eye, but so many years later I have now been told that it can be dislocated by simply rubbing the eyes. Why was I not told this beforehand? I was misinformed and given a false sense of security.
Before my explant surgery I was given anaesthetic drops and an injection in the eye, but I could see the procedure being performed, which was invasive and horrific. After the surgery my left eye was swollen and I was unable to open it all until the next morning. I was so afraid that I would never be able to see through it again.
When I did eventually open my eye the next morning it was completely blood shot, so I kept the eye guard on for several days as I didn’t want to frighten my children.
It has been a very long week and I am now left with good vison in my right eye and poor vision in my left eye. I have been told that I can wear a contact lens in my left eye after a month. But in the meantime I have to cope with this imbalance of vision, and try to get on with everyday life, which is really difficult as I am experiencing double vision and headaches.
The whole experience has left me feeling very low and I question how this was allowed to happen, if I was informed of the ECC risk I would have continued to attend yearly appointments at Optimax rather than with my optician. This risk and the implications were never discussed with me prior to my surgery, and I don’t know if I would have gone ahead if they had been.
So entirely due to lack of communication on Optimax’s part I find myself in the situation I am in today.
I have worn glasses (short-sighted) since the age of 15 and now at 42 am rapidly reaching the age where I will possibly need reading glasses at some stage over the next few years. Given the pandemic and the fact that I've not been able to go on holiday since November 2019, I was in a position where I'd be able to afford laser eye surgery.
I went to Optimax in Leeds on Friday 9th October 2020 when I had all the relevant eye tests but was told that my cornea were too thin for laser treatment, and was offered the implantable contact lens as an alternative. My prescription is -4.75 in my left eye and - 3.25 in my right eye.
I had paid my deposit and was all set to go today (10th April) but yesterday I opted out of the surgery and cancelled - so what put me off?
In the week leading up to my appointment, I found that the Optimax centre in Leeds were unable to answer (what I thought to be) some very straightforward questions I had. There was, of course, no available specialist to answer my queries and I was also worried that they were wanting full payment to be made some two days before the surgery was to take place. Even now, I wouldn't be able to tell you the name of my proposed surgeon who was going to carry out the surgery. They provided no paperwork with this important information, so that I have been unable to look at his experience and success or failure rates.
A bit perturbed by the above, I set about looking for reviews of Optimax after work on Thursday afternoon, and am glad that I did, but wish I had done this sooner, as I wouldn't now be in the potential position of losing a £1,000 deposit.
Having read some of the horror stories however, especially concerning the possibility of cell damage with these lenses, and the need for an ECC test every year, that was not explained to me, plus lack of aftercare, customers experiencing starbursts, halos, dry eyes, and worsening vision post surgery, I am fully confident that I have had a lucky escape.
The surgeon told me that I could have both my eyes operated on at the same time, which is apparently a big no-no, as well as the possible complications and side effects being buried deep in a six page customer declaration form.
At the end of the day, £1,000 is a lot of money, but it pales into insignificance compared to the stories I have subsequently read on the internet. I would really encourage anyone who is wanting to have surgery to do some serious research before going ahead with the procedure. I was unaware, until finding information on a website that most companies pay their staff commission on sales and the whole eye refractive industry is unregulated.
I was definitely not fully informed and would appreciate any advice you can offer to help me recover my £1,000 deposit.
You only get one pair of eyes, and I for one, will be sticking to glasses and contact lenses.
Many thanks in advance.
2 weeks ago I went for a consult at Optimax in Leicester and decided to go ahead with surgery a couple of weeks later. I feel like I experienced fantastic service and felt very comfortable to go ahead with LASIK.
During the week between the consultation and deciding to go ahead, I felt like I had done all my due diligence on the company and the procedure.
I now know I had barely scratched the surface.
I paid my money and booked everything in for the following Thursday.
In the meantime I found out about My Beautiful Eyes Foundation and as part of my due diligence I reached out to ask some questions.
Monday morning and Sasha called me and I feel like I’ve dodged a bullet. After a good conversation I felt completely confident backing out of surgery.
Luckily, the clinic were fantastic about everything and at no point did I feel pressured to go through with anything.
As much as I think that refractive surgery is super-sketchy, Optimax did give me a great service.
I think anyone considering Laser Eye surgery should have a conversation with Sasha, if you come out the other side feeling confident of the outcome then I’d be surprised, so many unknowns!
I have to admit, during the first moments of the phone call I was skeptical of her claims and I felt 99% sure I would be continuing with my planned LASIK at Optimax in Leicester on the Thursday.
But after hearing the emotion in her voice after just a few minutes, I spent the following couple of hours going down the rabbit hole researching refractive laser surgery outcomes...
I couldn’t believe what I was reading, it sounded horrific.
I could not in all good conscience go ahead with my surgery on the Thursday based on the unpredictability of the outcome.
I couldn’t thank Sasha enough for calling me.
When Optimax had been telling me that in a few years I will need reading glasses I felt like this is a misleading term as it appears that, from my brief research, that the more accurate warning of: ‘in a few years you will need glasses for anything nearby’ would seem to be more applicable.
I didn’t think it was worth the risk for me, I wear contacts or glasses and both give me 100% crystal clear problem free vision guaranteed.
The woman on the phone at Leicester I spoke to after I decided to back out, couldn’t have been any more understanding about me now not wanting to go ahead with it.
As bad as the surgery is, I cannot fault the front-of-house side of things. They totally understood my concerns and left things really amicable with me if I decided to change my mind.
So far I’ve had them cancel the finance (which I’ve had confirmed by email) and a couple of days later got my £500 refunded to my credit card without any issues.
I hope this is useful to someone else in my position.
I had implantable contact lenses in 2005, my surgery went well and I have had 20/20 vision since. I attended aftercare appointments with a consultant until 2009, as all was fine 4 years after I had my surgery I decided to have regular checkups/eye tests at my opticians rather than going to Optimax, none of my eye tests detected any problems with my sight.
11 years after my surgery I received a letter in 2016 stating that I needed a ECC (Endothelial cell count) check. Back then the letter left me very confused as I had never been made aware of this risk, and thought that it must be a general letter and didn’t apply to me due to the fact that this had never been explained to me during my aftercare appointments.
I believe that a consultant ophthalmologist should have called me to explain this risk and the serious implications so that immediate checks and recommendations could be made in a timely manner. I do believe that Optimax had a legal, moral and ethical duty to inform me of this risk in a better manner than they did, as I thought this was not applicable to me so I disregarded the letter.
In February 2021 I received the same letter, so I decided to book an appointment with Optimax at a charge of £35. My appointment date was Friday 19th March 2021 where I underwent an Endothelial cell count check (ECC). The optometrist told me that my cell count in my left eye was very low, only 665 cells, and that also the lens clip towards my nose had come out of place. This means that the ICL has to be removed from my left eye otherwise it could cause serious problems. Then I will have to go back to using a contact lens in my left eye. This is negatively life changing for me.
The lack of communication from Optimax has left me in a compromising situation where I am having to undergo invasive surgery which could have been avoided if Optimax had been more diligent with their communication, ensuring they make contact with every patient like me to explain these risks rather than just send a letter out of the blue; I do not accept this was good enough.
I am now left feeling anxious and very upset, unable to eat or sleep properly as this situation has severely affected me psychologically. I intend to seek expert advice as I am finding it difficult to come to terms with this situation and do not believe that Optimax have taken accountability for their actions.
I attended an appointment with the Medical Director, Dr Llango, on Monday 22nd March and I was horrified to be told that the lens in my left eye had moved due to the pupil contracting and forcing the lens to move up and down. I believe it may not have been secured properly during the surgery, in turn causing this irreversible damage to my eye.
I have contacted Optimax, and have requested they provide a copy of my original consent form, as I am 100% sure that this ECC risk was not included in the form when I underwent my surgery in 2005. I have also asked them to forward my ECC readings from 2005 to 2009, as I am certain they were never conducted or ever discussed with me during my pre-op or aftercare appointments.
I have informed Optimax that I would like to speak to a doctor with regards to the long term effects the low Endothelial cell count will have on my sight in the future as I am extremely worried. I would also like Optimax to review my case thoroughly and provide me with answers as to why this was allowed to happen.
My surgery date to explant my lens has been set for Wednesday 14th April, but I intend to see an independent surgeon for a second opinion before the op.
Last month, Optimax spent in excess of an estimated £180,000 for three full page colour ads that ran for two days in The Times, Express and Daily Mail newspapers. Eventhough this is clearly an advertisement it is fraudulently not made clear that Harriotte Lane was paid for her gushing endorsement of Optimax.
When asked via Twitter, Harriotte (rhymes with carrot) admitted this to 'My Beautiful Eyes Foundation' campaigner Sasha Rodoy (who was irreparably damaged by laser eye surgery at Optimax in 2011).
Presumably Terry Hollingsworth, also featured in the ad, was paid too, but he has yet to be asked.
This has been reported to the Advertising Standards Authority.
Russell Ambrose claimed insolvency and entered a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) on 27 November 2020, screwing over 22 of his loyal Optimax staff made redundant in the process (having nauseatingly told them ‘Love to you all’ in an email on 5 October).
Struggling without money before Christmas, they each lost £5,000 due to their boss’ underhand actions - and had to claim owed wages from the government!
There is something untoward going on here, because Ultralase is not claiming insolvency even though the two companies act as one, with same surgeons and same premises!
Because of this, our advice to anyone thinking about risking their eyesight to unregulated refractive surgery, you should definitely avoid both Optimax and Ultralase UK because the owner is dodgy and devious and it's uncertain if his companies will still be in business in 6 months time!
It is understood that Russell Ambrose has also defaulted on the legal Settlement Agreement he signed with Sasha Rodoy in 2012 so she is now forced to consider legal action. The fallout from this should be entertaining when lockdown is over as the enterprising activist never fails to surprise the industry with her actions!
If there are any demos planned outside Optimax clinics we'll be sure to let you know.