Written on: 18/05/2012
Please please please read my story before having anything done by Optical Express, they might seem ok but the horrid reality of things only appears once they have your money, laser eye surgery can be great if you go to a proper respected outfit and not the likes of these jokers, these companies are the McD's/Burger King/KFC's of the laser eye surgery industry, you will not get what you really want despite their flashy claims, please read my story below and decide for yourself before going to these clowns.
In 2009 my life changed forever when our two year old son, Owen, was diagnosed with Menkes Disease, an incurable, terminal condition, & we were told he'd be lucky to see his third birthday.
Owen was born severely disabled but we never expected this!
To help improve the quality of the short time we had left I decided to have laser eye surgery, so I'd be unhindered by glasses.
July 2009: I went to Optical Express in Milton Keynes for a consultation.
Excited by the prospect of being free from specs, I expected a thorough examination by the surgeon himself.
I was therefore surprised that most of the eye tests were performed by unqualified office staff, & the consult with an optometrist!
My research had found major Lasik problems with pupil size & night vision, so I mentioned this to the optom, asking if I had large pupils. She just sat back in her chair and said "you're a perfect candidate for Lasik".
I took her word for it, signed up, & paid in full for surgery there and then. How utterly foolish of me.
A week later I return for my surgery, very excited.
A few minutes before I was due to go in a receptionist shoved a consent form under my face and told me to quickly sign by the marks she'd made. I was expected to read and digest this in just a few minutes, but being very excited I simply signed as instructed!
Finally I met the surgeon. He reassuringly told me he'd had laser surgery, examined my eyes for at least 150 seconds before rushing out of the room. I was then taken through to the operating room.
Approx 10 minutes later, after Lasik on both eyes, I was whisked into another room & left on my own. A while later a man I'd never seen before came in wearing an apron. He barely spoke English and I had a hard time working out what he said, but guessed it was "put drops in eyes".
Armed with said drops I was swiftly shoved out of the door and told to go home and sleep!
I was unable to see & serious pain had kicked in.
After a good nights sleep I woke with clearer vision - though not as clear as I'd expected, better than pre surgery without specs. As the days went by my vision was hazy and blurry, but at my follow up appointment I was assured everything was great - fine and dandy, any problems would soon disappear!
As the weeks passed I had serious problems with night time vision: bad ghosting, halos, glare, blinding starbursts etc, & not least, chronic dry eyes.
Numerous appointments with Optical Express for the following ten months... repeatedly fobbed off by a different optometrist every time, all assuring me it "will get better", just need to wait...
Weeks became months, became a year! An assortment of eye drops, gels, steroid drops etc... which did sod all! By then I was seriously concerned.
Worry and despair took over. Meanwhile, the time going back and forward for appts was time I was losing with my little boy.
Depression set in, and all I could think about was my eyes and being stuck like this forever.
April 2010: Optical Express transferred my care to their Harley St clinic 'Complex Case Management System'.
I really believed I had a chance of success here, instead of being advised by inept optometrists.
Btw, at one of my last appointments at Milton Keynes, one optometrist did admit that I have very large pupils, about 8.8mm, so at least one of them told me a truth.
The Professor checked my details, scans etc, shined some lights in my eyes. Then, with a blank look on his face, mumbled something about "small cataracts on one eye", but "nothing to worry about".
He referred me for an appt at Moorfields eye hospital who told me my problems were all due to under correction & retreatment should make things much better - but not completely better!
After almost a year of living hell, excited again at the prospect of having my eyes fixed, I attended more clinic appts & eventually booked in for retreatment.
August 2010: following laser retreatment, I go home a happy man with expectations of repaired vision.
A few days later, the problems returned as bad as ever, except now, my eyes were VERY dry indeed, like having needles stuck in them, & sticking to the eyelids, making it difficult to open when I woke up.
So, back on the the merry go round, back and forth to London.
March 2011: Prof says he needs a better laser to treat me, admitting it's all down to my pupil size, that the laser they use in Optical Express really isn't that good at all, advising me to wait until after the summer when they'll have a new laser that will fix my ailing eyesight once and for all.
I'm excited again.
Summer comes and goes with no contact from OE.
September 2011: I called OE to be told the new laser was delayed until the end of the year, & they recommend I see yet another 'independent' specialist.
October 2011: London, he examined me and advised any further surgery is a huge risk as my eyes probably won't survive any more battering, that I should just accept it and move on!
Good chap did recommend that I try some drops though ;)
OE provided drops, again ineffective - except for giving me a banging headache for five hours!
Another type of drop he recommended wasn't even available in the UK.
February 2012: appointment with Prof. Usual routine; scans etc... then he sat me down, & in one breath told me he can't fix me, and, doesn't know how to go about fixing me!
I was gutted! BUT, but he did say there'll be new lasers produced in the next 3 years that will fix me "good & proper". He told me to attend an appointment with OE once a year until they get new lasers, and all will be great.
Finally realising I needed to take legal action, I discovered any legal claim must be made within 3 years of the initial treatment! Now I understood why they've had me running around all this time, as after July 2012 they're safe to wash their hands of me!
Via a forum I was contacted by other laser damaged patients campaigning for government legislation to regulate these clinics, one of whom wrote to them on my behalf (20 April), asking him to show some compassion & personally intervene, given the circumstances of my family situation.
He didn't even respond, just passed on my details to the OE's 'Professional Services Manager', who sent me a very abrupt & unpleasant email:
"Optical Express has previously arranged for you to be independently examined by Dr [name removed] and Dr [name removed]. If you wish to obtain further independent evaluation from Dr [name removed] or any other appropriately qualified medical practitioner then you are, of course, free to do so at your expense. If such an independent practitioner requires any information arising out of such a consultation then any such request should be directed to me and I will arrange for an appropriate response."
Happily, with the help of the Campaign group, Centre for Sight has agreed to examine my eyes to see if remedial surgery is possible, & thanks to a great solicitor I'm commencing urgent legal action.
I went into this nightmare after being taken in by the flashy ads & promises of great vision, that it's perfectly safe!
Nearly 3 years on if I could turn back time & go back to wearing glasses, I'd do it in a heartbeat.
Optical Express have just strung me along, riding out the three year limitation period to stop me taking legal action.
I feel sick thinking about the time and energy I've wasted, precious time I should have spent with my son.
High street clinics like OE are the McDonalds/KFC/Burger Kings of the laser eye surgery industry. DO NOT TRUST THEM.
Meanwhile, Owen is still with us, doing ok, and he'll be 6 years old in September :)
I know we're on borrowed time now, but I'm determined to make the most of it, despite what Optical Express have done to my eyes & my life.
As you can see my life has been turned into a living hell because of OE.
Please visit www.opticalexpressruinedmylife.co.uk for info and more patient stories on the horrors of OE.
Please also sign the online petition for government legislation to be introduced to make sure rogue companies like these do not continue to ruin peoples lives like they have mine.
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