Update: January 2016
After a number of unreasonable offers - the first only £35,000 - Danny finally agreed to an out of court six figure settlement last month (December 2015). He did not sign a gagging order.
Danny's claim was against both Optical Express and surgeon Stefan Klopper. The allegations included 'lack of informed consent’.
While he described his settlement as “life changing”, unfortunately so was the surgery that left Danny's eyes irreversibly and permanently damaged.
MPS (Medical Protection Society), Stefan Klopper’s medical insurers, have paid the full amount of compensation to Danny while Optical Express are apparently refusing to contribute. It is understood that the MPS are actively pursuing OE for some of the costs.
As is the case for the majority of OE surgeons, a number of Stefan Klopper's other damaged patients are currently pursuing legal claims against both him and Optical Express.
I decided to have laser eye surgery and went to Optical Express in Milton Keynes for a consultation.
Excited by the prospect of being free from specs I expected a thorough examination by the surgeon himself.
I was therefore surprised that most of the eye tests were performed by unqualified office staff & the consult with an optometrist not the surgeon!
My research had found major Lasik problems with pupil size & night vision so I mentioned this to the optom, asking if I had large pupils. She just sat back in her chair and said, "You're a perfect candidate for Lasik".
I took her word for it, signed up & paid in full for surgery there and then. How utterly foolish of me.
A week later I return for my surgery very excited.
A few minutes before I was due to go in a receptionist shoved a consent form under my face and told me to quickly sign by the marks she'd made. I was expected to read and digest this in just a few minutes, but very excited and knowing no better, I simply signed as instructed!
Finally I met the surgeon Stefan Klopper who reassuringly told me he'd had laser surgery himself, examined my eyes for at least 150 seconds before rushing out of the room.
I was then taken through to the operating room.
Approximately 10 minutes later, after Lasik on both eyes, I was whisked into another room & left alone. A while later a man I'd never seen before came in wearing an apron. He barely spoke English and I had difficulty working out what he said but guessed at, "put drops in eyes".
Armed with said drops I was told to go home and sleep & swiftly shoved out of the door!
I was unable to see and serious pain had kicked in.
After a good nights sleep I woke with clearer vision, although not as clear as I'd expected, but better than pre surgery without specs.
As the days went by my vision became hazy and blurry, but I was assured everything was great at my follow up appointment - fine and dandy, any problems would soon disappear!
As the weeks passed I had serious problems with night time vision: bad ghosting, halos, glare, blinding starbursts etc, & not least, chronic dry eyes.
For the following ten months I attended appointments with Optical Express... repeatedly fobbed off by a different optometrist each time, all assuring me it "will get better", just need to wait...
Weeks became months, became a year! An assortment of eye drops, gels, steroid drops etc... which did b***er all! By then I was seriously concerned.
Worry and despair took over, depression set in, and all I could think about was my eyes and being stuck like this forever.
Optical Express transferred my care to their Harley St clinic 'Complex Case Management System', headed by Professor Jan Venter & Stephen Hannan.
I really believed I had a chance of success here with a proper surgeon, instead of being advised by inept optometrists.
At one of my last appointments in Milton Keynes an optometrist did admit that I have large pupils, over 8mm, so at least one of them told me a truth.
Professor Venter checked my details, scans etc, shined some lights in my eyes. Then, with a blank look on his face, mumbled something about "small cataracts on one eye", but "nothing to worry about".
He referred me for an appt with Julian Stevens at Moorfields eye hospital who told me my problems were all due to under correction & retreatment should make things much better - but not completely better!
After almost a year of living hell, excited again at the prospect of having my eyes fixed, I attended more clinic appts & eventually booked in for retreatment.
Following laser retreatment I go home a happy man with expectations of repaired vision.
A few days later the problems returned as bad as ever, except now my eyes were VERY dry indeed, like having needles stuck in them, sticking to the eyelids and making it difficult to open when I woke up.
Back on the the merry go round with more trips to & fro London.
Prof Venter says he needs a better laser to treat me, admitting it's all down to my pupil size, that the laser they use in Optical Express really isn't that good at all, advising me to wait until after the summer when they'll have a new laser that will fix my ailing eyesight once and for all.
I'm excited again!
Summer comes and summer goes with no contact from OE.
I called OE to be told the new laser was delayed until the end of the year & they recommend I see David O'Brart, yet another 'independent' specialist.
London, Mr O'Brart examined me in London and advised any further surgery is a huge risk as my eyes probably won't survive any more battering, that I should just accept it and "move on"!
Good chap did recommend that I try some drops though ;)
OE provided drops, again ineffective - except for giving me a banging headache for five hours!
Another type of drop Mr O'Brart recommended wasn't even available in the UK.
Appointment with Prof Jan Venter, usual routine, scans etc... then he sat me down & in one breath told me he can't fix me, and, doesn't know how to go about fixing me!
I was gutted! BUT, but he did say there'll be new lasers produced in the next 3 years that will fix me "good & proper". He told me to attend an appointment with OE once a year until they get new lasers and all will be great.
Finally realising I needed to take legal action I discovered this must be done within three years* of the initial treatment, and then understood why they'd had me running around all this time, as after July 2012 they were safe to wash their hands of me!
[* Since Danny began litigation, legal teams now agree that the three years limitation time can be accepted as beginning from date of knowledge, not date of surgery. Read 'OE's Complex Cases'.]
Via a forum, I was put in touch with Sasha Rodoy who wrote to David Moulsdale on my behalf asking for his help.Moulsdale didn't respond, just passed on my details to Stephen Hannan, OE's "Clinical Services Director", who sent me an abrupt & unpleasant email advising that if I wished to obtain an independent evaluation then I was free to do so at my own expense!
At Sasha's request, Sheraz Daya (Centre for Sight Clinic) generously agreed to examine my eyes to see if remedial surgery was possible.
Although Mr Daya was prepared to operate again, I have been advised that any further surgery would be a risk to the vision I have now. It's also been confirmed that OE should never have considered me for surgery due to the size of my pupils.
Thanks to the speed of a great solicitor we commenced legal action within the three years.
I went into this nightmare after being seduced by flashy ads & promises of great vision, told lies that it's perfectly safe.
Nearly four years on if I could turn back time & go back to wearing glasses I'd do it in a heartbeat.
High street clinics like Optical Express are the McDonalds/KFC/Burger Kings of the laser eye surgery industry.
DO NOT TRUST THEM!