High street optician, Optical Express, has been ordered to pay a customer more than £500,000 in damages after a judge ruled the company had failed to properly warn of the possible risks involved prior to carrying out a laser eye surgery procedure.
Stephanie Holloway of Lee-on-Solent, was forced to live by candlelight and now also must wear dark glasses such was the damage inflicted to her eyes.
Optical Express had argued that both its sales staff in the Southampton store, as well as the surgeon who carried out the procedure had fully warned of the risks involved.
The ruling judge at Central London County Court commented that Miss Holloway at no point had been given enough information in order for her to have been in a position to give “informed consent”. The judge also said of the £2,790 operation that it was one that “on any objective basis she should never have had”.
During the two week trial, the spotlight had focussed on Optical Express’s “hard sell” tactics, where staff were encouraged to “meet and greet” clients whilst “encouraging them to proceed”. Customers were told that the same procedures for laser eye surgery were used for US Navy pilots.
Dr Joanne McGraw who carried out the surgery, had told the court that although she had little memory of the initial consultation, she was sure that she had informed Miss Holloway that hers was a difficult case. Judge Edward Bailey doubted this and said the consultation may have lasted for as little as three minutes and in that time there was “absolutely no way” in which Miss Holloway could have been given all the relevant information she needed at that time. It was revealed that Dr McGraw had seen up to 30 patients that day.
Miss Holloway was given a form to sign on the day her surgery was scheduled to take place and although she had been warned her vision may be hazy after the operation, the full procedure was not explained.
There is no evidence to suggest the operation was not competently carried out, but the judge ruled that due to the lack of information of both the risks and the procedure itself, the claimant should be awarded damages.