Compensation for a Problem with Laser Eye Surgery

Is it possible to claim compensation for a problem with laser eye surgery which has caused my vision to deteriorate? My vision was better before I had the LASIK procedure performed.

You may be entitled to claim compensation for a problem with laser eye surgery that caused your vision to deteriorate, provided a mistake was made by the surgeon who performed the operation or there was an equipment failure. If the damage to your eyes was avoidable under the circumstances, and it cannot be considered to be a reasonable risk from having the treatment performed, a claim for an eye injury from laser surgery is likely to be possible.

A LASIK procedure changes the shape of the cornea using lasers, and there is potential for over or under correction during the procedure. In rare cases ‘higher order aberrations’ can be caused, which includes visual disturbances such as ghosting, double vision, glare and starbursts. All of these risks associated with the treatment should have been explained to you prior to you agreeing to have the procedure performed. The surgeon will have been negligent for failing to inform you of any of these risks.

If the surgeon overestimated the probability of a successful outcome, this may also give you grounds to claim compensation for a deterioration in vision after eye surgery. However, if you were told about the risk involved – either verbally or in a contract or medical consent form which you signed – claiming laser eye surgery compensation is likely to be complicated.

The best course of action to take is to contact a medical negligence solicitor to discuss your case. You will need to give your account of what the surgeon told you prior to you giving consent to have the LISIK procedure performed, what the surgeon has explained about the outcome, and you will need to explain your symptoms in full. However, it is unlikely that your right to make a claim for an eye injury from laser surgery will not be confirmed until a full investigation of your case has been conducted by a solicitor.

A solicitor must contact the surgeon to establish why the surgery failed to produce the desired results and how the procedure caused your vision to deteriorate. You will also need to give consent for your solicitor to access your medical records, and it is probable that an eye examination will need to be arranged to confirm the extent of your injury from laser eye surgery. If you signed a medical consent form or contract, this must also be checked by a solicitor before eligibility to claim compensation can be confirmed.

Why the Issue of Consent is so Important

Even if the deterioration in your vision is not attributable to negligence, you may still be entitled to compensation for a problem with laser eye surgery if you were not informed that a loss of vision was a potential consequence of the LASIK procedure.

When you gave your consent for the procedure to be carried out, it must have been “informed consent” – literally that “a patient must be fully informed about and understand the potential benefits and risks of their choice of treatment”. If it is determined that you signed a consent form without being fully informed of the potential consequences, your surgeon will be considered to have been negligent in his or her duty of care and liable for laser eye surgery compensation.

In many cases failed eye surgery can be corrected by undergoing further eye operations, although an injury from laser eye surgery can cause permanent changes to eyesight. If your vision can be corrected by undergoing a further operation – and you are entitled to claim compensation for a problem with laser eye surgery – you will be entitled to recoup the cost of treatment and any other financial losses you have suffered by making a claim for special damages. You will also be entitled to claim laser eye surgery compensation for any pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused.

Once your case has been thoroughly assessed, reviewed by an expert in the LASIK procedure, and the medical consent forms examined for informed consent you will be advised if you are entitled to claim compensation for a problem with laser eye surgery.

This is an Information site only – if you feel you have a potential claim, you should discuss your situation with a solicitor registered with the Law Society of Ireland.