Diabetes can lead to serious eye conditions, including diabetic retinopathy and cataracts. According to the National Institute of Health, diabetes is a leading cause of blindness in adults between the ages of 20 and 64. Keeping up with regular eye examinations can detect early changes in the eyes due to disease caused by diabetes. Results of a routine eye examination may even be the first indicator of diabetes for some patients. 

Penningtons Manches’ clinical negligence team has investigated a number of cases relating to diabetic retinopathy and has been able to secure compensation for clients. By way of an example, the team recently settled a case where a client with diabetes had been attending his GP with early evidence of diabetic retinopathy that went undiagnosed. This continued for a number of years without referral by the GP until the patient, concerned at his worsening eyesight, consulted an optician who suggested the diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy. The patient then underwent laser, vitrectomy and endolaser treatment that successfully preserved good central vision in his right eye, but he suffered permanent and irretrievable loss of vision in his left eye with shrinkage and cosmetic deformity. He also faced the risk that his left eye might have to be removed in the future and an artificial eye fitted. With the help of expert evidence, the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches was able to establish the failings in care provided and resolve the claim successfully. 

A review of ophthalmic clinical negligence claims on the NHS Litigation Authority database for the period 1995 to 2006 showed: ‘There were 848 claims, 651 of which were closed. 46% of closed claims resulted in payment of damages. The total cost of damages over the period was £11 million. The mean level of damages was £37,100. Cataract made up the largest share of claims (31%), paediatric ophthalmology had the highest mean damages (£170,000), and claims related to glaucoma were most likely to result in payment of damages (64%).’ 

Alison Johnson, a senior associate in Penningtons Manches’ clinical negligence team, said: “We have considerable expertise in dealing with a full range of ophthalmic claims, including diabetic retinopathy, and appreciate how debilitating and tragically sometimes life-changing an ophthalmic injury can be. Please do get in touch if you are worried that you may have received poor medical care resulting in loss of vision or any kind of ophthalmic injury and we will be able to help you.”