£1m court case over laser eye surgery that went wrong

After laser eye surgery goes wrong, one woman claims she wasn't warned of the risks

Updated: 
Stephanie Holloway

A 28-year-old former antiques buyer from Lee-on-the-Solent is suing Optical Express and one of its surgeons after corrective laser eye surgery went wrong.

Stephanie Holloway (pictured, above left) says the surgery has wrecked her chances of pursuing her dream career as a police officer, and is claiming £1 million in damages.

Holloway spent £2,900 on the operation in 2008, in the hope that it would improve her eyesight enough to enable her to join the police force. However, the procedure, carried out by Dr Joanna McGraw (pictured below), wasn't a success and has left her unusually sensitive to light.

According to the Daily Mail she is claiming that she has to wear dark glasses at all times at home, and has to be guided by her mother when she goes out.

Her lawyers told the Central London County Court that they valued her suffering and loss of earnings at £1 million. They added that she is visually disabled and has developed clinical depression as a result.

Her lawyers are also claiming she wasn't properly warned about the risks. However, Optical Express' lawyer says this is not true, and that she was clearly warned that she risked a very bad result because of the type of eyes she has. He also claimed she is exaggerating her difficulties, and said he has video surveillance evidence.

Dr Joanna McGraw

The risks

This case is ongoing, and not all the evidence has been heard, so it is not possible to draw any conclusions about this particular surgery.

More generally, laser eye surgery does carry risks. The NHS website says that complications occur in less than 5% of cases, but suggests people check with their consultant that the have outlined all the risks.

Which? Investigated a number of different clinics last month, and were concerned by what they found in some of them.

Overall they claimed that one in three consultations offered by the clinics they tested were poor, and that in many cases the risks were not clearly outlined. They added that good written information was always provided by all the clinics, but that some fell short on explaining the risks in person.

Optical Express responded to that study, saying: "More than 99 per cent of our patients achieve 20/20 vision or better without spectacles or contact lenses post-surgery, based on a study of over 293,000 patients with the most common prescription ranges we treat.

In a further study of over 97,000 patients, over 99 per cent said they would recommend Optical Express. Patient care is our No.1 priority and we ensure everyone we treat is fully informed and suitable."

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