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Monday, 20 October 2014

Optical Express to pay £500,000 damages after failing to properly inform woman of laser-eye surgery risks before operation left her with damaged eyesight - then spying on her to try and prove she was lying


Optical Express failed to properly inform a young woman of the risks of laser eye surgery then spied on her in a bid to prove she was lying about how damaged her eyesight was. 
Stephanie Holloway's eyes were so sensitive to light following the operation to correct her short-sightedness she was forced to wear sunglasses everywhere and light her home with candles. 
But the 28-year-old from Lee-on-Solent, Gosport, was followed by private investigators hired by the company in a bid to dismiss her complaints that the surgery had ruined her life. 



The High Street chain was ordered to pay more than £500,000 in damages for the mistake at Central London County Court. 
Miss Holloway had been 'enticed' into a branch an Optical Express branch in Southampton in 2008 after seeing an advert on television for eye surgery which claimed it cost £395. 
But when she contacted the company, they quoted her a price seven times as high. In the end she paid £2,790 for the procedure. 
Despite her reservations, Miss Holloway was coaxed into getting the surgery by an optometrist who, the court heard, said he had had the procedure himself and his eyesight was 'brilliant'. 
Confidential guidance the chain had given to its staff encouraged them to tell customers they were 'in excellent hands' and to 'reduce price objections' with encouragement.

After paying a £200 deposit, she waited for five hours for her first appointment with a surgeon who was 'extremely busy'. 
Dr Joanna McGraw said though she had little memory of their meeting, she would have warned Miss Holloway that hers was a difficult case and that surgery might not necessarily correct her problems. 
But the judge insisted there was 'no way' the woman could have given Miss Holloway all the relevant information in that small of a time. 
An hour before her surgery, she was told to sign a consent form which was inappropriate, according to the judge who said: 'That is not how things should be done'. 
'It was like a conveyor belt. I was under a lot of pressure. The lady did not leave my side, I was literally told to sign the form and I did what I was told,' Miss Holloway told the court. 
After the operation the woman said that 'everything was hazy' and she felt 'sick and shocked'.  
She went back to the branch and was told by an optometrist not to be concerned and to keep taking the drops.
When Miss Holloway sought a second opinion, one expert said it was the worst case of photophobia he had encountered, and wrote: 'I'm sorry I'm not able to offer her any further treatment.'   
She was forced to use candle light in her home, because electric lights were too bright for her to bear, and can only sometimes manage to read large print.
After having to rely on friends to take her to buy food and run errands for fear of falling, the former book dealer said she thought life was 'hardly worth living'. 
The court heard Optical Express used private detectives to covertly film her over three days in August to try and dispel her claims. 
They followed the woman driving her car, shopping at a supermarket and even through the windows of her own home.    
Ruling both Optical Express and Dr McGraw liable to pay full compensation, the judge said Miss Holloway had at no point been given sufficient information about the risks of the surgery and possible complications in order to give ‘informed consent’.
The company was told to pay a total of £569,287, including £30,000 for Miss Holloway’s ‘pain and suffering’ and over £400,000 for her lost earnings. 

Speaking after the court ruling, Stephanie Holloway said: 'I would urge people considering laser eye surgery to really think it through carefully, that you have a decent surgeon and to make sure you are aware of all the risks beforehand.' R 
Optical Express failed to properly inform a young woman of the risks of laser eye surgery then spied on her in a bid to prove she was lying about how damaged her eyesight was. 
Stephanie Holloway's eyes were so sensitive to light following the operation to correct her short-sightedness she was forced to wear sunglasses everywhere and light her home with candles. 
But the 28-year-old from Lee-on-Solent, Gosport, was followed by private investigators hired by the company in a bid to dismiss her complaints that the surgery had ruined her life. 

The High Street chain was ordered to pay more than £500,000 in damages for the mistake at Central London County Court. 
Miss Holloway had been 'enticed' into a branch an Optical Express branch in Southampton in 2008 after seeing an advert on television for eye surgery which claimed it cost £395. 
But when she contacted the company, they quoted her a price seven times as high. In the end she paid £2,790 for the procedure. 
Despite her reservations, Miss Holloway was coaxed into getting the surgery by an optometrist who, the court heard, said he had had the procedure himself and his eyesight was 'brilliant'. 
Confidential guidance the chain had given to its staff encouraged them to tell customers they were 'in excellent hands' and to 'reduce price objections' with encouragement.

After paying a £200 deposit, she waited for five hours for her first appointment with a surgeon who was 'extremely busy'. 
Dr Joanna McGraw said though she had little memory of their meeting, she would have warned Miss Holloway that hers was a difficult case and that surgery might not necessarily correct her problems. 
But the judge insisted there was 'no way' the woman could have given Miss Holloway all the relevant information in that small of a time. 
An hour before her surgery, she was told to sign a consent form which was inappropriate, according to the judge who said: 'That is not how things should be done'. 
'It was like a conveyor belt. I was under a lot of pressure. The lady did not leave my side, I was literally told to sign the form and I did what I was told,' Miss Holloway told the court. 
After the operation the woman said that 'everything was hazy' and she felt 'sick and shocked'.  
She went back to the branch and was told by an optometrist not to be concerned and to keep taking the drops.
When Miss Holloway sought a second opinion, one expert said it was the worst case of photophobia he had encountered, and wrote: 'I'm sorry I'm not able to offer her any further treatment.'   
She was forced to use candle light in her home, because electric lights were too bright for her to bear, and can only sometimes manage to read large print.
After having to rely on friends to take her to buy food and run errands for fear of falling, the former book dealer said she thought life was 'hardly worth living'. 
The court heard Optical Express used private detectives to covertly film her over three days in August to try and dispel her claims. 
They followed the woman driving her car, shopping at a supermarket and even through the windows of her own home.    
Ruling both Optical Express and Dr McGraw liable to pay full compensation, the judge said Miss Holloway had at no point been given sufficient information about the risks of the surgery and possible complications in order to give ‘informed consent’.
The company was told to pay a total of £569,287, including £30,000 for Miss Holloway’s ‘pain and suffering’ and over £400,000 for her lost earnings. 
Speaking after the court ruling, Stephanie Holloway said: 'I would urge people considering laser eye surgery to really think it through carefully, that you have a decent surgeon and to make sure you are aware of all the risks beforehand.' 


Original story http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2771023/Optical-Express-pay-500-000-damages-laser-surgery-wrecked-young-woman-s-life-spied-prove-lying.html