Failure to diagnose detached retina resulting in blindness

Mrs C was rendered blind as a result of negligent treatment by her optician. Mrs C started to experience visual problems in her right eye. She saw what appeared to be little black twigs floating in her field of vision.  She telephoned her usual opticians to report the problem and to arrange an eye examination. When she attended the practice, she was examined by an optician and advised that she had cataracts present in her eyes and that no urgent treatment was required.  It was suggested that she simply purchase a pair of bifocal spectacles.  She was not given any other warnings or advice.

Mrs C went away to visit relatives and shortly after her arrival noticed a deterioration in the sight of her right eye. She went to see a different optician and explained the situation but she was not examined and was simply told to go back to see her own opticians when she returned home, which she did. When she returned home she went back to her usual opticians and it was found that she had in fact suffered a detachment of the right retina. Her local Accident & Emergency Department where she was seen the same day made the correct diagnosis of retinal detachment.

Surgery was performed to reattach the retina. Sadly it was too late and she lost all useful vision in her right eye.

Moore Blatch’s team of clinical negligence solicitors obtained copies of all of Mrs C’s medical records to include those of both opticians, and analysed these in detail. Independent medical experts were instructed to consider the standard of medical care that had been given. Those experts advised that on a balance of probabilities, Mrs C had in fact suffered a retinal tear at the time when she was first seen by her optician.  Given her description of her symptoms it was mandatory for him either to dilate her pupils and examine the retina himself, or refer her urgently to the local hospital eye service for such an examination. His failure to undertake this examination (or to refer her) was negligent.

Had the opticians undertaken a proper examination of the retina on the balance of probabilities he would found a retinal tear. If the tear had not progressed to retinal detachment Mrs C would simply have received urgent laser treatment to the eye to repair the tear.

Prompt treatment would have saved Mrs C’s sight.

The case was eventually settled for a substantial six figure sum.

Paula Barnes had conduct of Mrs C’s case working alongside a number of clinical negligence solicitors from Moore Blatch. Paula is a solicitor based in our Southampton office and in relation to the case she said: “this case was complex both on the legal issues relating to liability and due to the fact that there were three defendants with no agreement between them until the later stages of the case. This made things extremely difficult and protracted.

“The settlement achieved, means that although sadly we cannot give Mrs C back her sight she can at least now move on with her life with a sum of money by way of compensation to enable her to get the essential support and care that she now needs.”