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      Derek Whittaker

      I went to Optimax after seeing an advertisement about laser surgery in 1997.

      I was very short sighted in both eyes, about minus 8 diopters. I was under the care of Eammon Hynes at Optimax Manchester clinic and he was very reassuring about the planned procedures.

      I had my non-dominant right eye treated with PRK [lasek]. Although the outcome was good at 00 diopters, my astigmatism had worsened to the extent of 1.5 and I was one line off the 20 vision.

      I wanted to leave it at that and take advantage of the new LASIK treatment for my left eye, but Eammon Hynes convinced me that further correction was not a problem.

      I had a second PRK procedure, which made matters worse – my astigmatism had worsened to 2.25 although the power correction was good.

      The problems with my vision had begun to affect my quality of life so I went for a third PRK treatment, which I was again assured would be minor “only 25 seconds with the laser”. The outcome was terrible. The laser had bubbled my cornea with its heat and I now had a diagonal strip across my whole eye, which blurred my vision. Eammon Hynes’ confidence in the procedure was unfounded.

      At this point I was referred to Chad Rostron in Harley Street for a Corneal graft. Optimax said they would pay for any remedial work but no apology was forthcoming.

      I had a partial thickness graft in early 2003 and although there was some doubt initially whether a graft could be found one was obtained and the operation went ahead in London.

      Although the usual assurances were given, after 6 months the vision in my right eye was terrible. In fact it wasn’t long before I kept my right eye closed all the time as I could not see out of it and it was more comfortable to keep it permanently closed.

      A further operation was carried out with a full thickness graft in October 2003. A few weeks after this my eye rejected the graft. I saw Chad once more (an incompetent fool) and he said I might lose the eye.

      A month later I was given a Botox injection by Mr Muhtaseb which closed my eyelid to help the eye heal. The pain was terrible and I had to lie on my back most of the time. Eventually in December I tried to contact Chad Rostron but he was out of the country.

      Optimax paid all my travelling expenses up to this time. But as my eye was becoming unbearably painful I was finding it increasingly difficult to travel between my home in North Yorkshire and London, so I asked Optimax if there was someone nearer my home I could be referred to.

      Chad Rostron’s registrar at St. George’s Hospital in Tooting, where I had been going for treatment in Chad’s absence, had mentioned a Mr Bruce Noble as being someone I could go to, and I asked Optimax if I could be transferred there, and they agreed. I saw Mr Noble at his private clinic in late December 2003.

      Mr Noble was horrified at the condition of my eye. The graft was sloughing off and was just held on by mucus. Within three days of the consultation I was admitted to Leeds General Hospital and given another emergency corneal graft.

      Mr Noble said that private medicine could not cope with my situation and he gave me a 50/50 chance of saving my eye. From that time on my care has been provided by the NHS.

      Since then I have had various other procedures on my right eye, none of them successful.

      In September 2017 my corneal graft was very thin and patchy, in a state of decompensation. The worst part (thinnest) of it was superglued and a bandage contact lens placed over it to protect my eyelids. (This was done once before in 2009 but the glue failed to allow healing of the cornea and another graft was put on by another operation in short measure)

      In this case I had only weeks to find out if the graft would heal, but I was not hopeful. The glue would eventually fall off and the graft not heal.

      I emailed Russell Ambrose on the 4 September 2017:
      “I had laser surgery a while ago now on my right eye and after five corneal grafts my latest one is in a state of decomposition with little eye pressure.

      My consultant Mr Ball at St James recommends replacing my eye with a prosthetic in the coming week and I do not wish this to happen if at all possible. Can you help?”

      He replied:
      “I am very sorry to hear this.

      I will ask my senior doctor to comment but I am not hopeful of a positive outcome.

      Please note that my doctors are not corneal graft specialists.

      Mr Ball has a good reputation and I suggest that you also ask him to recommend another surgeon for a review of your options.”

      In 2018 my right eye was removed.

      Russell Ambrose offered to pay for this privately, but my NHS consultant refused.

      I now have glaucoma in my remaining eye and am registered as visually impaired.

      Needless to say, I have received no compensation from Optimax even though I lost my eye due to the surgery they sold me, and up to the present day no-one at Optimax has ever followed up my case or given any intimation that they are interested.

      But then, perhaps they don’t want to hear about the failures.

      You too can have laser eye treatment at Optimax and end up with one of these. I did.




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