I had lasek at Optimax Milton Keynes clinic in August 2019.
I am now left with a constant feeling of dread worry and anxiety.
The pain and daily torment from the recurrent corneal abrasions I now suffer from is excruciating.
*Severe dry eye
*Meibomian gland dysfunction
The real risks were not truly discussed with me.
Have they been discussed with you?
DO NOT PUT YOUR LIFE IN THE HANDS OF THESE BUTCHERS.
I was sold a dream! I'm now living a nightmare!
To top that off I've brought my whole family along for the ride!
The reason I invested the last 10 years of my life campaigning for government regulation and helping other victims of the corrupt refractive surgery industry
'13 March 2011
Dear Mr Ambrose,
Patient ID: 20675624
On 18 February this year I underwent Lasek treatment at your Croydon clinic, performed by Dr Hoe.
Whilst I was already unhappy with a number of issues, both on the day, and post treatment, they pale into insignificance given the position I find myself in now.
I have 6 pages of keynotes, which will be referred to at a later date – not least because I’m only able to spend ten minutes at my computer before losing vision and experiencing pain.
At no time was I told that due to my age (57) and prescription (-3.50/-4.25), I would simply be exchanging one problem for its polar opposite. That is, myopia for hypermetropia.
My findings are that at least one reputable clinic would have refused to treat my eyes, or at least explained, and physically shown me, what the result would be given my age. Apparently I should also have been offered Monovision.
None of the above was, at any time, offered or discussed with me by anyone at Optimax prior to treatment. Did no one take into account my age?
There is no benefit to me in gaining distance vision as it is heavily outweighed by the massive losses I have suffered by the sacrifice of my perfect near vision.
Had I been told this at any time before treatment I would have walked out immediately and never returned. However, at my initial consultation the optometrist was reluctant to discuss much with me, other than telling me I was suitable only for #Lasek, due to the thickness of my cornea, and the doctor would explain everything else on the day of my treatment.
I had mentioned to the optometrist that I was concerned she wore glasses, but she excused it by telling me she couldn’t have laser treatment due to muscle weakness.
Knowing what I do now, I would not be surprised if that’s her story to pacify patients, that she’s made an informed decision not to risk having her eyes damaged, as I’ve discovered too late have so many of Optimax’s patients.
I thought I asked all the right questions before considering treatment, conducted sufficient research… but it turns out not to be so. Deeper trawling of the internet has put me in touch with other people who’ve suffered thanks to your greed.
Your Finchley Rd clinic presents a slick façade, with attractive Eastern European girls deceptively dressed as nurses, which imbues the belief that one is actually in a safe medical establishment. When in fact their expertise lies in discussing payment options and setting up credit agreements.
On the day of my treatment at [the] Croydon clinic, a man was sitting in the corner slumped in abject misery. Thinking he was nervous I spoke to him. He told me he had to decide whether or not to undergo a third treatment, having had an unsuccessful outcome of Monovision for the second time. I went back in to speak with Dr Hoe and expressed my concerns about this, and other matters, but he was very dismissive, saying that it was a different procedure to mine.
Having examined my eyes Dr Hoe, said, I quote, “your eyes will be very nice for this treatment.”
I was told at Finchley Road that I was only suitable for Lasek, so Dr Hoe confused me when he said I could have the choice of either Lasik or Lasek. He didn’t offer any opinion as to which I should take, or why, and it was only because of my own research that I was aware Lasek had a longer recovery time. Being given that option at the last minute I was in a dilemma, with Dr Hoe obviously impatient to get on with his treatments.
I asked him for the negatives (which surely he should have explained to me without being asked) and he told me Lasek would allow more than one retreat if necessary, but #Lasik would only allow one more retreat.
As I write this I realize how insane it was not to have walked out then – retreatments!? But by that time the well-practiced Optimax conveyor belt has you moving along and it’s hard to get off.
Not thinking for one minute that I would actually need a retreat, I decided it prudent to have Lasek ‘just in case’! Not that I would now consider allowing anyone at Optimax to touch my eyes again.
Whilst explaining the Lasek process Dr Hoe briefly explained the use of Mitomycin-C, and it was only minutes before my treatment that I was called over to the desk to have yet another piece of paper thrust in front of me, the receptionist saying that Dr Hoe had explained it to me, could I quickly sign as I was about to go in.
It was only a few days ago that I read in horror what I had signed! I am now fearful wondering what else I can expect to go wrong in the future. The fact that it states, “Optimax does not endorse the use of Mitomycin-C…” is of obvious concern to me, and most definitely a document that ought to have been shown to me at the time of my consultation, allowing me sufficient time to take it home to read and research.
It was only once the excruciating pain (also not explained to me beforehand) subsided after more than 48 hrs, and I was able to open my eyes for longer periods, that it slowly dawned on me I was unable to see anything relatively close up.
Meanwhile my vision has also deteriorated for distance vision, and I sometimes wear +2.00 readers to watch TV.
By the time I saw the optometrist at my Finchley Road appointment on 3 March I was very upset and she expressed surprise that I hadn’t been told about the reversal of my prescription beforehand, and whilst saying it ‘might’ get a little better, she herself didn’t seem convinced.
She told me that it would take 3 months for my eyes to settle to whatever vision I’m going to have, so I will take no direct action until then. However, I am meanwhile collecting information in preparation, including details of litigation against laser companies in the US.
I have joined a number of online forums and have been contacted by others who’ve had their eyes botched by Optimax.
I will be well armed by May, as I have no doubt that I have irreversibly lost my perfect near vision – which should have been explained to me prior to treatment! It’s an option I would never have entertained.
I’m unable to perform the simplest of tasks without +2.00 specs. I was an avid reader but have had to stop, as I now need +2.75 prescription, which only allows me to read a few pages before the words blur and I experience headaches.
I could possibly see the Eiffel Tower on a clear day, but I can’t see anything much nearer. Each day I discover something else; today I found I’m no longer able to read the controls on the washing machine - even from 1 metre away.
I’m unable to focus on my hands or pluck my eyebrows. I won’t be able to wear make up, as I’m unable to see that close up. I can’t see the caller display on my mobile phone. The list is endless.
In hindsight, I was given contact details for only one previous Optimax patient within my age/prescription to call for her feedback. However, she was unwilling to provide any information and described herself as being unwell. I think that further contact with her might very well show that she is similarly as unhappy as I am.
Prior to treatment I called Finchley Road clinic and explained that this lady didn’t want to speak to me, and I wanted to speak with other patients. The receptionist said she would ask her colleague who’d recently been treated to call me. I don’t think I need to explain the absurdity of this suggestion to you.
I was finally sent a list of previous patients. Eventually I managed to speak to the fourth person on the list as the others were incorrect numbers, or unavailable. It’s only too late that I realise the woman I did speak to was in her late 30s when she had Lasek!
Having studied my Patient Results Forecast more closely, the pie chart data represents feedback from only 10 patients. It then states below that results shown are for 18 patients!
As this satisfaction questionnaire was introduced in 2008, it appears very few people with my descriptors have undergone Lasek since then. Given Optimax’s claim to have treated 300,000 patients – no doubt considerably more since your website’s last update - this is worrying.
Or, could it be, that if you increased the pie sample statistics to more than 10 patients, the bias would be towards the ‘Not Worthwhile’ slice?
A number of statements on your website are misleading and untrue.
“Please note that the suitability information provided by this tool acts as a guideline only and will be verified by our specialist eye doctor during your consultation.”
I don’t recall the optometrist I met at my consultation being introduced to me as a doctor, and as far as I am aware I did not meet an actual doctor until my treatment.
Furthermore, some of my eye tests were performed by your office staff rather than by an optometrist.
Optimax has ruined my life. I am back at that place I hoped never to be again, suffering with clinical depression and anxiety attacks as a direct result of the butchery I’ve received.
I dread waking up each morning & opening my eyes to this relentless nightmare. I was a confident and attractive woman but now I can barely function. I am unable to work and my life is falling to pieces.
My GP has prescribed anti depressants for a minimum of 6 months and offered her full support having heard the entire story. She, like many other people I have met recently, was also considering laser treatment, but not any more!
I have already briefly discussed my situation with a lawyer and will hopefully be able to take future legal action against your company. Besides which there are of course the press, media, and internet – where I sadly found you.
I believe there is insufficient government regulation for clinics like yours, and it needs to be changed; this is not a bad haircut that will grow out, this is forever. You are ruining people’s lives.
In summary, I believe you/Optimax/Dr Hoe have been negligent in your duty of care.
I reserve the right to further detail what I’ve written here at a later date, as for now this letter is a cathartic act, obsessively repeated in my head every morning I’ve woken up over the past few weeks: I will, as advised, wait until the outcome in May before taking further action.
In the next 30 minutes, ten years ago today, I would make the biggest mistake of my life, with irreparable damage to my eyes and life after being sold a pack of lies - by optom Swati Malkan, sales person Rui Pedro (now clinic manager at Focus), negligent surgeon Wilbert Hoe, and Optimax owner Russell Keith Ambrose, who is of course ultimately responsible for the entire sickening set up!
Taking an optimistic view, the irreparable damage inflicted by Optimax en masse became the biggest mistake for the UK refractive surgery industry
Because my experience lead me to launch My Beautiful Eyes Foundation, patient advocacy service and campaign group calling for government regulation, and with the help of others damaged by these risky and unregulated operations, our stories on OERML website forum, and elsewhere, have successfully warned many 1000s of people not to do it, also costing the industry millions fighting legal claims from those for whom its too late.
Ten years is a long time, and I've decided it’s time to disclose some of the details of my ongoing personal battle with Russell Ambrose not yet told, so I intend to publish some of the shocking information only disclosed to me under my second Subject Access Request to Optimax in 2017, proving that Russell lied to me from the first time we met, on Friday 13 May 2011.
I signed a settlement agreement with Russell in September 2012, negotiated in person over 18 months, without legal representation (meetings all recorded), but had I been in possession of the truth, I would have instructed a law firm to represent me, the reasons for which you will understand in my next post.
In the interim, snippets from two of our many emails exchanged over the years...
• 7 March 2011, Russell to a surgeon after trying to convince me that my eyes could be fixed - at least he didn't insult me and call it an ‘enhancement’!:
'I confirm that I am happy to pay for Sasha Rodoy’s re-treatment.
I hope she takes the plunge and puts herself and all of us out of this misery.’
• 8 July 2013, Russell to me: 'If you want to start a war then I will fight it till the end.’
For almost 10 years I have frequently and vehemently argued against refractive eye surgery being referred to as ‘cosmetic’, because though sold in a similarly careless manner, this is invasive surgery that changes how we see, NOT how we are seen - a highly significant distinction
I was therefore disgusted to see this advertising for cosmetic eyelid surgery, sold by and performed within the Optimax/Ultralase UK refractive eye surgery clinics, guaranteed to mislead the uninformed into thinking laser and/or lens replacement surgery are cosmetic procedures!
More misleading advertising, because this bio would suggest that refractive surgery is provided by nhs.uk: 'Mr Radwan Almousa joined Optimax in January 2020 and therefore, at this juncture we do not have specific success rates, or patient and surgeon satisfaction figures relating to his time at Optimax. He has, however, performed surgeries for other refractive eye surgery providers and the NHS.'
I called Optimax this afternoon to confirm whether they were still open for cosmetic surgery during lockdown - hairdressers & gyms closed, but according to the company it's apparently quite safe to have cosmetic eye surgery!
Reading from their website, I then asked who else Radwan Almousa was highly regarded by (other than Optimax), and the woman paused before answering, ‘It’d be [people] within his field… he does all sorts, he does laser surgery as well’.
For the record, I had never heard of Radwan Almousa (hopefully more skilled at operating than spelling!), and I know of most of the genuinely ‘highly regarded’ ophthalmologists in this country:
I asked where this Jack of all trades would be operating, and the woman told me that I'd be going to the Harley Street clinic, explaining that Ultralase UK is their sister company.
More about this ‘highly renowned’ doctor, seemingly scratching for work by the look of things:
Surgery carried out by industry expert. Dr Almousa is a qualified Consultant Oculoplastic Surgeon and an expert in the field of Blepharoplasty.'
NEW! Optimax Ruined My Life website + Twitter!
29 Jan 2021 12:53 #27
Well done Leigh. I sent you an email.
Thanks Guy - I've amended below!
Responding to my 16 December post re Russell Ambrose and Optimax’'s insolvency, I was contacted by disgruntled employees (ex & current) who provided me with some interesting (and highly amusing) information
On 5 October his employees received a letter from Russell, expressing crocodile tears (no MGD for him!), telling them that he was restructuring the company and had to let people go, but that it’s been, ‘great fun over the years’, signing off with, ‘Love to you all’!
He told them that, unless they’d not heard otherwise by 16 October, their jobs were safe…
Then on 5/6 November, closing the Newcastle, Peterborough and Reading premises, he deceitfully made at least 22 employees redundant - some who’d been loyal to their weasel boss for than twenty years!
Pay slips were sent out to these employees advising they would receive their holiday pay with their wages on 30 November, their last payday, but at 7pm on 29 November, Russell sent an email telling them this wasn’t going to happen, and redundant staff received only one week’s pay!
And then we have the entertaining story of David Moulsdale - playing the male equivalent of Maleficent at Sleeping Beauty’s christening...
An uninvited guest at the Optimax CVA Virtual Meeting on 27 November, in typical gangster style he’d bought one of the creditor's debts (from a cleaning supplies company), his actions described by the administrators as 'underhand', but not illegal.
Moulsdale apparently did his best to disrupt the proceedings, the following transcript as told to me by one of Russell’s creditors who was present (happy to edit if any other attendees disagree with wording)...
DM: ‘Let me buy the company!’ RA: 'Get out of this meeting, I’ve never done business with you!' DM: 'I’ll give you £14 million!' RA: ‘What are you talking about, you owe £60 million!’
ROTFLMAO - oh to have been there!
Yesterday I spoke with the boss of the firm handling the CVA, who kindly answered all my questions, explaining the situation in terms I could better understand.*
• RussellAmbrose had been advised to put Optimax into administration, but was adamant he won’t do this, claiming that he wanted to keep it going, because he’d invested so many millions of his own money into the company. (Odd therefore that he once criticised his arch rival for this, telling me that he believed DavidMoulsdale had stupidly invested much of his own money into Optical Express)
• Unsecured creditors will be paid only 39.8p for each £1 they are owed, whilst Optimax
will continue to trade.**
• Suppliers will be paid ‘on delivery' or via Pro Forma invoices.
• After 4 years the pre CVA debt will be written off.
At odds with his published ‘insolvency’, Russell invested more than £600,000 refurbishing his Leeds premises earlier this year, and very recently purchased new OCT machines (min £30k each), and upgraded his aged computers!
I'm told that he also plans to refurbish the Brighton premises very soon (with the huge costs allegedly being paid from his own pocket), intending to focus on lens surgery.
Do I smell NHS contracts being chased?
And it should be considered that Optimax and Ultralase both operate out of the same premises, with same surgeons, yet only Optimax in CVA!
(Specs wearing Optimax/Ultralase Medical Director Malcolm 'Pour your heart out to me' Samuel leaving end of January.)
There’s more I know that I can't yet discuss, but I have no doubt Russell has a sneaky something up his sleeve, as time (and I) will tell in due course.
Looks as if the p*ssing contest that's lasted more than 18 years between the two UK refractive industry market leaders (psychopathic owners Russell Ambrose at Optimax and Ultralase, and David Moulsdale at Optical Express) may soon have a loser, with Russell seemingly ready to throw in the towel
It should be noted that amongst a number of companies, including real estate agencies, a jewellery manufacturer*, and a caravan park, Russell Ambrose also has 'EYE HOSPITALS GROUP LIMITED (08307617)’** & EYE HOSPITALS LIMITED (08874915)*** in his portfolio, which he could use to continue trading in refractive eye surgery should Optimax go into administration - Ultralase surely destined to follow the same path, given that they share the same premises and same surgeons