Woman Awarded Compensation for Eyesight Damaged by Laser Eye Surgery

A woman from Gosport in Hampshire has been awarded £567,287 compensation for having her eyesight damaged by laser eye surgery after a hearing at the Central London County Court.

Stephanie Holloway (28) brought her claim for compensation against Optical Express and eye surgeon Dr Joanna McGraw after undergoing eye surgery in September 2008. Stephanie had hoped that the eye surgery would improve her short-sightedness and to give her an opportunity of fulfilling a life-long dream of joining the police force.

Unfortunately the surgery left Stephanie with photophobia – an intolerance of bright lights – which means that Stephanie has to permanently wear sunglasses and live in an environment lit only by candles. Stephanie also developed depression and a fear of going blind after the failed operation and despite consultations with optical experts – and one further painful surgery – her condition has not improved.

Stephanie alleged in her claim for compensation for having her eyesight damaged by laser eye surgery that she had not been advised of the potential risks of the operation – an allegation denied by Optical Express and Dr McGraw, who insisted in court that she had advised Stephanie hers was a very difficult case which could have a very bad result.

However, at the Central London County Court, Judge Edward Bailey heard that Dr McGraw´s initial consultation with Stephanie had lasted just three to four minutes, and that Stephanie had been presented with a consent form just seven minutes before the operation to correct her vision commenced.

The judge ruled that Stephanie had not been given sufficient information about the risks of surgery in order to give informed consent, and said that giving a patient a consent form to sign seven minutes before surgery “is not how things should be done”.

The judge added that the lack of information Stephanie received was a material breach in Optical Express´s duty of care and went against the Royal College of Ophthalmologist´s guidelines that a patient should be presented with a consent form at least twenty-four hours prior to surgery.

Judge Bailey awarded Stephanie £569,287 compensation for having her eyesight damaged by laser eye surgery – which included more than £400,000 for Stephanie´s loss of earnings after her book dealing business collapsed due to her inability to read anything other than large print.