January 2015: Optical Express settled out of court and paid Nick £25,000. His claim was worth twice that amount, but unfortunately his solicitor was nervous about going to court against Optical Express and advised him to accept the offer.
OE’s legal team contacted Nick after the cheque had been cashed asking him to sign a gagging order they'd forgotten about!
See Nick’s Facebook page for his response: https://www.facebook.com/OEClaim
NB: There are now four legal firms representing hundreds of OE damaged patients, and they are not intimidated by Optical Express!
After 30 years of short sightedness, unable to wear even the thinnest contact lenses due to dry eyes, I decided to explore the option of laser eye surgery.
I have very poor vision in one eye but my research reassured me nobody was left blind due to laser eye surgery - my biggest fear! (Although I later discovered Myra was blinded after IOL surgery due to post op negligence)
In February 2012 a laser eye surgeon at St Pauls Eye Hospital in Liverpool advised me against surgery, warning that no matter how small a risk it was too great for someone who relies on good vision in only one eye.
Disappointed, I took advantage of a free appointment at Optical Express Liverpool One clinic to hear what they had to say.
When I mentioned the advice I’d been given at St Pauls, the OE optometrist Giles Turner encouragingly assured me that because of their extensive experience, treating me would not be a problem and told me they’d perform LASIK which puts less pressure on the retina and so reduce risks of 'floaters'.
Convinced everything would be fine, thinking I’d be extremely unlucky to end up one of the 0.01% to 0.5% problem cases (although now I believe it’s closer to 20-30%), I signed up and paid my money.
Even though I didn't want any scaremongering back then - how I wish I'd seen Sasha Rodoy’s YouTube videos!
Day of surgery and I arrive in the City of Liverpool with an inexplicable feeling of unease. Unlike tension you’d expect before a job interview, or exam, I had nagging doubts, am I doing the right thing.
Why didn’t I simply walk away? Because I believed the surgeon and optoms were all telling me the truth, they must know what they’re doing, and I wanted to be free of glasses.
Trying to ignore my doubts, a young woman rushed into the clinic saying loudly, "I’m here to see the surgeon, as they have messed my eyes".
Alarm bells start clanging, but I’m already on the way in to see the surgeon Mr Faqir Qazi, who informs me that I “won’t be able to read”, a complete contradiction of what he told me earlier. Confused, I reminded him he’d previously told me I would be able to read at arm’s length and only require reading glasses for close up work. He then backtracked and said, "Yes, that is correct."
I lay down on the reclining chair and a piece of equipment was swung over my head.
Disgusted, I noticed head hairs on the equipment and I’m lying there thinking "this isn’t very hygienic", but as the hairs weren’t touching me I said nothing.
You have to appreciate the setting, literally like a conveyor belt, patients wheeled in and out, so you don’t feel in a position to speak up and interrupt the momentum.
The procedure begins and I’m asked to focus on an orange circle. All painless and I assume OK, until suddenly the orange circle veers off to the top left and - horror of horrors - I could see it plain as day - A hair directly in my line of vision!
I felt SICK, absolutely gutted, where was the due care and attention?
Told it would minimise the risk of halos and high order aberrations, I’d paid extra for Advanced Custom Vue Wavefront. I considered myself a high risk patient due to poor sight in my right eye, loaded up on vitamin C as advised, yet Optical Express couldn’t even ensure the equipment was in a clean state!
Procedure over, I was led to a small dark room where a staff member explains which drops to use and informs me I can leave when I’m ready.
My vision fluctuates over the coming weeks, good in the morning, steadily deteriorating by mid afternoon… then Optical Express Head Office calls to see how it was going.
I told them how I’d anguished for weeks over the lack of cleanliness at the clinic and wondered if my eyesight had been jeopardised because of this?
Time moved on, I’m told for the umpteenth time that "everything is fine and it takes time to heal", "all patients heal differently", but no improvement.
After a month of this I was given a pair of reading glasses, then a second pair to fix the ghosting images which made driving hazardous - although the optometrist cheerfully told me I met the legal driving standard regulations, never mind I saw all oncoming headlights, traffic lights and street lights in duplicate!
A few months passed and I discovered Sasha Rodoy’s presence on the web, realising with some relief that I am not alone with similar horror stories out there.
Another consultation with the NHS and I mentioned ‘the hair’!
I was assured any foreign materials present would have been zapped by the laser, eased my worries some, but it should never have happened.
Another consultation with Faqir Qazi to discuss what went wrong and he was real keen (too keen) to have another go, assured me it would be simple process, that he actually retreats around four patients out of twenty-seven. High percentage I was not told about before surgery!
By this time I had read enough of other people’s stories to realise these so called ‘re-treats’ or ‘enhancements’ have made matters worse for many patients and said, "there is no way I am letting Optical Express anywhere near my eyes again".
He asked me if I could read with my vision glasses. I told him not, to which he said he was sorry.
I then contacted Sasha Rodoy who advised me to contact Optical Express and ask them to pay for an independent consultation. They informed me I had to see Professor Jan Venter at their Complex Cases clinic in Harley Street before they’d agree.
Despite their best efforts to separate me from Sasha and stop her from being present at my consultation, she was with me when Professor Jan Venter explained my problem is having been left "over corrected".
A complete waste of time with a multitude of exhaustive eye tests – yet when I went back to Liverpool One Clinic for an update of prescription glasses, not one of the test results entered on my medical records.
Finally I had my independent consultation with Sheraz Daya at Centre for Sight in December 2012.
In a nutshell Sheraz Daya informed me he would NOT have operated on me as I only had one good eye and there was no way he would risk it even if he knew he could fix it!
That’s the difference between an ethical clinic and a high street chain whose only interest is meeting targets where ‘patient care’ is of secondary importance – if at all!
Mr Daya also showed me charts indicating how the laser treatment was not centred around my pupil, something he failed to mention on the report incidentally, and furthermore I should consider myself lucky that the result was not worse - obviously he’s seen a lot more damaged OE victims than me.
To think I paid for this, now needing multiple prescription glasses for everyday tasks. When struggling to read small print I’m no longer able to just remove my glasses and read it up close, no longer free from wearing glasses, I’m wearing them for EVERYTHING!.
Had I found sites like OERML before treatment I can categorically state that had the real risks been disclosed, I never would have contemplated surgery.
My decision was based on my truly believing and buying into the bulls**t Optical Express sales staff, surgeon Faqir Qazi and optometrist Giles Turner at Liverpool One fed me.
The unscrupulous staff at Liverpool One did not mention any potential risks. Neither do Optical Express inform or publish true and representative figures for problem cases, because they don’t have to.
That is why the government MUST get involved soon and I wish Sasha the very best in her campaign against this devious industry.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story.