The eyes are, without a doubt, the most important sensory organ, as we perceive up to 80 per cent of our environment through our eyes. If you suffer from vision problems such as glaucoma, myopia or retinal tears, this may substantially affect your daily life, and you might consider corrective surgery.
Laser eye surgery is usually safe and successful for most people. However, when things go wrong due to mistakes or negligence, it can result in blurred vision, headaches, reduced eyesight and even blindness. Such an outcome may severely affect your mental health and day-to-day life.
If your injuries were due to the negligence of a medical professional, you might be able to make a laser eye surgery claim. The level of compensation you could receive depends on your pain and suffering, the severity of your injury and the financial losses and expenses incurred as a result.
To find out if you could claim for eye surgery negligence, you can enter your details into our online claim form or call 0800 678 1410 to speak to a legal adviser. If your case has merit, your solicitor will offer you a no win no fee service to fund your claim without any upfront costs.
Am I eligible to make a laser eye surgery claim?
A laser eye surgery procedure that goes wrong can be devastating. If you were not properly informed of the risks associated with the surgery, it could be even harder to deal with.
If you received treatment and attention below the acceptable standard, you might be eligible to make an eye surgery claim. A free consultation with a legal adviser is the quickest and easiest way to determine if you have valid grounds to take legal action.
As a general rule, you should be able to claim laser eye surgery compensation if:
- You suffered an injury as a result of surgery in the last three years
- Your injury was due to someone else’s negligence
- That person owed you a duty of care
It is a given that all doctors and medical staff owe a duty of care to patients. You have the right to expect a reasonable standard of care from a knowledgeable and skilful professional and to be well-informed about the procedure and possible outcomes or side effects.
While not all mistakes and failures are considered negligence, your solicitor will consult with medical experts in the field to prove that your injury could have been avoided with proper care. To make a successful laser eye surgery claim, you also need relevant evidence, such as:
- A medical examination from an independent professional, which your solicitor will arrange for you
- Photos of any visible injuries you sustained
- Your detailed medical records related to the diagnosis, surgery or treatment you received
- Any correspondence with your doctor
- Witness statements from friends, family and medical staff
- Your notes about how the eye surgery negligence affected your life
- An official complaint about the injury you sustained with the company that performed the surgery
- Proof of lost earnings and any out-of-pocket expenses you incurred
What is laser eye surgery?
Laser eye surgery is a medical procedure that could permanently correct some vision problems and remove the need for glasses or contact lenses. There are several types of surgery, of which the most common is LASIK.
LASIK aims to reshape the cornea of your eyes to improve or correct short-sightedness, long-sightedness or astigmatism. During the procedure, a computer-controlled laser is used to remove minute amounts of tissue from the cornea to restore normal eyesight.
The reasons why you might consider laser eye surgery include the following:
- You cannot wear contact lenses
- You prefer not to wear glasses for aesthetic reasons
- You want to be able to engage in activities that cannot be done with glasses or contact lenses
If you are thinking about getting laser eye surgery, you should know that:
- It is best to be at least 20 years old to undergo the procedure;
- Your glasses prescription should be stable before you consider getting the procedure;
- The intervention carries extra risks if you have an abnormally shaped or very thin cornea;
- Undergoing surgery must be carefully evaluated if you suffer from diabetes, rheumatic conditions or diseases of the immune system;
- You may not be eligible for the procedure if you are pregnant or nursing;
- You should not undergo eye surgery if you take medicine that may cause vision changes.
After surgery, you may feel burning, itchiness, or the sensation that you have a foreign object in the eye. It is usually recommended to take a mild pain reliever to help with symptoms and take some days off work after the surgery.
It may take up to six months for your vision to stabilise after the procedure. During this period, your doctor will schedule several appointments to make sure your eyes are healing as they should. If you suffer avoidable complications due to surgical mistakes, this could lead to a successful laser eye surgery claim.
Are there different types of laser eye surgery?
Laser eye surgery can help with numerous eye problems, including glaucoma, retinal detachment, short-sightedness, corneal abrasion, and more. The type of laser eye surgery you may need depends on your particular issue. Some of the most common procedures that may lead to an eye surgery claim include the following:
LASEK, LASIK, Wavefront-guided LASIK Surgery or PRK
These are commonly used to reshape the cornea to improve vision on a long-term basis. Overall, LASIK is the most popular type of laser eye surgery. It uses a computer-guided laser to remove tissue from parts of the cornea so it can better refract light to the retina.
PRK is a better choice for people with thinner corneas or chronic dry eyes. LASEK combines the benefits of both LASIK and PRK, while Wavefront LASIK offers the highest degree of accuracy and precision.
Small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE)
SMILE is a newer approach that uses a laser to cut a small lens-shaped disc in the cornea, which is then extracted through a small incision. This procedure reshapes the cornea to reverse the refractive errors of the eyes. Besides short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism, SMILE can also treat presbyopia, an age-related type of vision loss.
Laser-assisted surgery for cataracts
Unlike the older approach that required a doctor to manually make an incision on the side of the eye’s cornea, laser-assisted surgery uses a software programme to map the cataract and break it into pieces. This method is much more accurate, requires no stitches and heals much faster, with fewer side effects.
Laser treatment for glaucoma
Laser treatment for glaucoma may be recommended if eye drops do not help to reduce inner eye pressure and improve symptoms. The procedure uses a laser to either:
- Open up the drainage tubes within the eyes and reduce the inside pressure
- Destroy some of the eye tissue that produces the liquid inside the eyes
- Create holes in your iris so the fluid can drain out
Without treatment, the excess pressure in the eye can damage the optic nerve and lead to loss of vision. However, negligent surgery may lead to severe complications for which you could claim eye surgery compensation.
Retinal detachment laser surgery
Retinal laser surgery or photocoagulation is a technique used to prevent complete retinal detachment and preserve vision. It uses a laser beam directed through the pupil that makes burns around the tear, creating scarring that welds the retina to the underlying tissue.
Laser treatment for diabetic retinopathy
This treatment is used to treat the growth of new blood vessels at the back of the eye in patients suffering from advanced stages of diabetes. These vessels are usually very weak and often cause bleeding in the eyes.
If you suffered an eye injury due to negligent laser surgery, you might be eligible to make an eye surgery claim. The type of surgery will not influence your right to claim or how much compensation you could receive for your damages.
What type of negligence could result in an eye surgery claim?
In most cases, people undergo eye surgery successfully and can enjoy its benefits. However, mistakes can have severe and permanent consequences that can change a person’s life forever.
If you suffered an eye injury or illness due to negligent care, you might be able to make a laser eye surgery claim. Some of the reasons for which you might be able to claim compensation include the following:
- Avoidable errors during surgery;
- Medication errors during or after surgery;
- Having unnecessary surgery due to misdiagnosed glaucoma or retinal detachment;
- Your doctor failed to assess the suitability of the procedure before it was carried out;
- Failure on behalf of the medical staff to obtain your detailed medical history;
- The equipment used during your surgery was defective;
- You received poor post-operative care;
- Your doctor failed to warn you about the risks and potential outcomes of eye surgery and provide alternative treatment options.
Making an eye surgery claim may seem daunting, but your solicitor will offer you support and advice at every step of the claims process, including:
- Collect the necessary medical evidence of the eye surgery negligence
- Arrange a free consultation with a specialist to determine the full extent of your injury
- Make sure you have access to private treatments and the best equipment available
- Assess your past losses and future needs to calculate suitable compensation for your losses
- Represent your best interests to obtain the most favourable outcome for you
It does not matter whether you received your treatment through private practice or the NHS. Your personal injury lawyer will contact the responsible party and inform them of your allegations of negligence and intentions to claim laser eye surgery compensation.
The other side will have three months to investigate your claim. If they admit liability for your injury, you may begin to negotiate a settlement. Otherwise, your solicitor will issue court proceedings and take your case to trial if necessary.
What are the potential injuries caused by laser eye surgery?
Most people who have laser eye surgery to correct their vision or treat other eye conditions get excellent results that live up to their expectations. For others, however, the outcome may not only be disappointing but also life-changing.
If your life was affected by eye surgery negligence, you might be able to claim compensation. Some of the complications and unacceptable outcomes that may lead to a laser eye surgery claim include:
- Damage to the tear ducts leading to dry eyes
- Infections of the cornea that may result in permanent severe scarring and loss of vision
- Blurred or double vision
- Corneal erosion, haze or scarring
- Under-correction or overcorrection
- Irregular astigmatism that may not be corrected with spectacles
- Corneal ulcer formation due to post-operative infection or inflammation
- Cataract formation
- Chronic inflammation of the eyes
- Partial or complete loss of sight in one or both eyes
Laser eye surgery is a revolutionary technique that can offer many benefits. But like any other surgical procedure, there are risks involved that could be minimised or eliminated. Before deciding to undergo surgery, make sure you find a good surgeon and eye centre and make an informed decision.
LASIK and other types of eye surgery are usually not advisable if you:
- Have an eye disease that causes the cornea to thin and bulge or a family history of it
- Suffer from severe short-sightedness
- Have very large pupils or a thin cornea
- Practice sports that may involve blows to the face
- Have a good overall vision
If you have suffered complications after your surgery, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. If your solicitor establishes that your injuries were due to negligence, you should be eligible to claim laser eye surgery compensation.
Is there a time limit to make a laser eye surgery compensation claim?
Under the Limitation Act 1980, claims for eye surgery negligence usually have a three-year time limit, starting from either:
- The date of the negligent surgery
- The date you became aware that you suffered an avoidable complication due to negligence
The last date on which you could start a laser eye surgery claim is known as the claim limitation date. Afterwards, your case becomes statute-barred, and the court will no longer accept it, even if it has merit. Only in exceptional circumstances will the Act allow an extension of the time limit based on the reason and extent of the delay in taking legal action.
There are some exceptions to the typical time limit to claim laser eye surgery compensation. For example:
- When the victim is a child, a litigation friend, usually a parent or guardian, could claim on their behalf at any time. Alternatively, the three-year countdown starts to run once they turn 18, and they will have until their 21st birthday to claim on their own behalf.
- If you had your eye surgery abroad, the time limit will depend on the foreign country’s laws and may be as short as six months.
- There is no time limit to make an eye surgery claim if the person is mentally incapacitated and cannot conduct legal proceedings. The time starts to run only if the person regains their intellectual ability and is deemed capable of handling their case.
- If you suffered an injury due to defective medical equipment, you could claim within three of the date the fault was found and no later than ten years after the product was put in circulation.
As a general rule, the sooner you seek legal advice, the easier it is to collect evidence and build a strong claim. Since this could be a lengthy process, most solicitors will not accept a case with less than six months and sometimes even a year left to the limitation date.
How much could my laser eye surgery claim be worth?
Every laser eye surgery claim is different, and the value of your compensation depends on your unique circumstances, such as the type and extent of the injury you suffered and its long-term consequences. Your solicitor will determine how this affected your life to ensure you are fully compensated.
In any personal injury claim, you can recover two types of damages:
Special damages are awarded for financial losses and expenses, such as:
- Lost earnings due to taking time off work
- Loss of earning capacity if your injury does not allow you to return to work
- Travel expenses to and from medical appointments
- Care and assistance with daily tasks, even if provided by your friends or family
- The cost of your unsuccessful surgery
- Private medical treatment costs
- Out-of-pocket expenses for glasses, eye drops or pain medication
General damages are awarded for the eye injury and how it affected your life, including:
- The physical pain and suffering it caused
- Mental and emotional trauma
- Psychological injuries such as anxiety or depression
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of prospects and enjoyment of life
- Loss of amenities such as the ability to pursue a hobby
- Loss of a unique career
- Long-term ailments and permanent disability
The value of your laser eye surgery claim will depend on the level of damage done. When calculating compensation for general damages, solicitors refer to the guidelines published by the Judicial College. These are based on past court cases for general damages and state that you could receive the following:
- £2,200 to £3,950 for a minor and temporary eye injury, with full recovery within weeks
- £3,950 to £8,730 for short-term eye injuries that affect vision but fully heal
- £9,110 to £20,980 for a minor but permanent vision impairment in one or both eyes
- £23,680 to £39,340 for severe but incomplete loss of vision in one eye
- £49,270 to £54,830 for permanent and complete loss of sight in one eye
- £54,830 to £65,710 for the total loss of one eye, with or without psychiatric damage
- £63,950 to £105,990 for complete blindness in one eye and impaired vision in the remaining eye
- £95,990 to £179,770 for loss of sight in one eye and serious risk of vision loss in the remaining eye
- In the region of £268,720 for permanent and complete loss of sight in both eyes
- £5,860 to £19,070 for moderate psychiatric damage with a good prognosis
- £54,830 to £115,730 for severe psychiatric damage with a very poor prognosis
After learning all the details of your eye surgery claim, your solicitor will be able to give you a fair estimate of your compensation prospects.
Can I claim for eye surgery negligence using no win no fee?
If your laser eye surgery claim has merit, your solicitor will likely offer you a no win no fee service. This is the preferred way of funding a compensation claim due to the unique advantages it offers, which include:
- You can take legal action regardless of your financial situation;
- You do not have to pay any upfront fees to your solicitor;
- Your solicitor will offer you free support and advice throughout the claims process;
- They will take care of all the legal aspects of your case so you can focus on your recovery;
- Your solicitor will know exactly how much your eye surgery claim is worth and will make sure you are fairly compensated for your pain and suffering;
- If your case fails, you do not have to pay anything to your solicitor;
- There are no financial risks involved in litigation.
Besides the conditional fee agreement between you and your solicitor, no win no fee also involves taking out an After the Event (ATE) insurance policy. The ATE policy is a legal expenses insurance that covers all the legal costs and disbursements incurred by you and the defendant during the claiming process if your case fails.
No win no fee removes any worries you may have about taking legal action because you will not be left out of pocket if your case fails. You only have to pay anything if you win, which will include:
- The cost of the ATE insurance policy
- A success fee to your solicitor
The success fee aims to compensate them for the risk they took by offering you a no win no fee agreement, which means they cannot recoup their costs if your case fails. It cannot exceed 25% of your compensation for general damages and past financial losses, and it will be fully discussed and agreed upon from the beginning.