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Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) 25 Jul 2014 14:02 #271

  • Lorna, Scotland
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I was 45 years old and just starting to get to the stage where I needed my glasses to go to the supermarket etc and to read a book, newspaper etc. I was also starting to have to wear them at work to read reports etc. Problems was I found I could not concentrate properly at work whilst wearing them. I was too aware of them on my face. And I was constantly misplacing them.

A work colleague of mine had laser eye surgery and said it was great, no more glasses. So I made an appointment to go to Optical Express for an assessment.

I was examined by a boy of around 20 who looked at my eyes and said I was not suitable for laser surgery - BUT I was suitable for Lens replacement surgery (RLE). He explained this would mean I would NEVER - even as an old lady, have to wear glasses as the results were permanent. He also added that I could get this operation on the NHS, but they do not offer the multifocal option that OE do, only a mono lens, so choosing Optical Express would mean my long and short sight would be perfect again.

He explained that the operations on each eye would take place 7 days apart. This all sounded fantastic so I signed up and paid my deposit.

I watched a video that used an awful lot of technical phrases and the upshot was that it said I might have blurry vision for a little while after my surgery but this improves and in the majority of cases my eyesight will be improved as soon as the post-surgery patch was removed.

It sounds so naive now but I was so excited and couldn’t wait to ditch my glasses. I even opted to have the surgery on my birthday as I was so keen to have it done. I went for various tests at Glasgow and they all said I was a perfect candidate for the surgery.

On the day of the surgery I was through at the special clinic in Giffnock by 9.00am and the waiting room was full of people just like me. someone put some drops in my eye and I was to wait for my turn. I was then asked to sign a disclaimer form AFTER my eyes drops were in: I had to ask a nurse to show me where to sign as I couldn’t see the form, or what it said.

The surgery process was like a cattle market, one in and one out, recovery in a very public waiting room with no privacy.

The surgery went fine, no pain or discomfort and I went home with instructions to remove the patch late afternoon. I did this to find to my horror I could not see out of my eye properly. I had severe double vision – so bad the distance between the objects was huge. I panicked and put the patch back on.

The following day my double vision was still very extreme and I phoned OE for advice. I was told not to worry – it would settle down. As the week wore on, my double vision remained very bad, I had to take the week off work as I couldn’t drive.

I then became worried about having my second eye done. If the same thing happened with my second eye I would be severely visually impaired. I asked for an emergency appointment with OE to discuss it, the day before I was scheduled to have my second eye done. They looked at my eye and assured me it would settle down and there was no reason not to have the second procedure.

I was through at the clinic at Giffnock very early the next morning and spoke to the surgeon re my concerns – I was very distressed and crying. He said because I was so upset about the possibility of something going wrong he wouldn’t do the surgery. I spent less than 5 minutes with him. I was then taken out and put back in the very public waiting room to await my return lift obviously very upset. Not one person asked me if I was okay or even if I needed a tissue or a glass of water. I felt (and still do) that I had made the worst mistake of my life.

The next few months was a roller coaster of problems with them. I asked lots of questions to which I received no answers. I could not drive in the dark – my surgery was December, so this affected my work as I have to drive at night. Calls were not returned when they were promised and all they did was send me endless tubes of eye drops which I didn’t need. I was given a contact lens to wear in my operated eye as this was meant to make my sight better and reduce the glare and double vision. They made it worse.

They said they had given me the wrong one and issued replacements – same results. They said they would give me glasses – if I chose the basic NHS value ones. The glasses made no difference. I've had so many eye tests I have lost count. The person doing the eye tests told me he was very upset – I thought he meant for me but he meant for himself, being stuck in the middle of my problem and the surgeon and he was the one who had to deal with me!!!

My GP was so concerned he referred me to the hospital for a check-up. They said the surgery was not the right one for me and that I had not been given enough information and that I would have been suitable for the laser surgery. They also said it was against the law for me to sign the disclaimer on the day of my surgery with drops in my eyes. The doctor said I could take legal action but to persevere with them and demand an independent consultation at their expense.

Eventually, after I told them the NHS were involved I was offered a meeting with the surgeon who was much nicer that day and explained he had more time to talk to me and said my options were to have the lens removed and a mono lens put in OR I could have the other eye done and hope it would resolve itself when both eyes were the same. He said there was some risk involved in removing the lens. Not an option for me.

He did however confirm that I WAS a suitable candidate for laser treatment which was what I'd originally asked for. He could not answer why the boy at my initial consultation tricked me into lens replacement. My answer to that is that it is around 3 times the price.

He agreed that it was a paper exercise giving me contact lenses and glasses as they do not help me – I do not have a prescription. My options are very limited and I still now nearly 8 months after surgery still have bad blurring, double vision and still cannot drive at night. He did give me drops to help with night driving and could not explain why no-one had offered them before? I feel I have been given false hope after false hope, they just want me to shut up and go away.

I now suffer from depression and cry constantly at my frustration at not being able to see clearly. I wear make-up and now need a magnifying mirror to apply it as I cannot see properly. I have no glasses to help me read and use a magnifying glass . I have my phone on large font and still cannot read labels etc when shopping. I am dreading the winter when I will not be able to drive at night again. My eye feels as if it is covered in a greasy film all the time and feels swollen and is frequently bloodshot. I have to blink repeatedly to ‘clear ‘ my vision.

Sorry this is so long – it feels good to be finally sharing this awful episode with someone.


Optometrist V Ophthalmologist 18 Jul 2014 21:16 #272

  • heres the thing
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The essence of Optical Express is that it is run by optometrists. The OE ophthalmologists (eye surgeons) carry out the surgery, but It is the optometrists who undertake the assessment of patients' suitability for treatment, also responsible for their aftercare.

As has previously been mentioned on this forum, there is a financial reward for the optometrists and sales "counsellors" for each patient put forward as suitable and signed up for treatment. Their job descriptions require: "excellent influencing skills". Premium treatments pay more - eg: RLE

The Clinical Director of Optical Express (Stephen Hannan) is an OPTOMETRIST - not an ophthalmologist. Therefore do not expect to receive the same attention to detail and direct access to a consultant ophthalmologist as you would get at a clinician run clinic.

If you develop problems you should - without argument, be seen by your operating surgeon, but with Optical Express's "model of care" (££) the surgeons will generally take the optoms assessment of that at face valiue and not even examine the patient!

RLE 18 Jul 2014 14:03 #273

  • Beverley T
  • Beverley T's Avatar
i had surgery in February this year and have been unable to drive at night since - daytime only as the double vision is too distracting and dangerous. I can also see the edge of the lens at night.
Was told that this was normal and should settle down - it is now July!!

After taking much time off work to visit the Optical Express clinic in Eastcheap, more than 10 visits, I asked each time if I could see Dr Jan Venter, the surgeon who operated on me. I was fobbed off again and again. I continued to complain until I was given an appointment at Harley Street in April with Barry Collins - he told me that he works closely with Dr Venter but I just discovered he is an optometrist, NOT a surgeon!

Barry Collins told me that it was best that I had the Mplus lens replaced with a single lens (next week). Again I asked if I could see Jan Venter before the explant - request declined!

How can Optical Express be allowed to treat people in this way :(
There does not seem to be any sense of responsibility or accountability from OE for those of us that are having problems with these ill fitting lenses. With such serious problems I should have seen the surgeon - not an optometrist!!!!

Please leave your eyes as they are!

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) 17 Jul 2014 07:40 #274

  • Shabir
  • Shabir's Avatar
Just heard the BBC Radio 5 Live Investigates report on eye surgery from your My Beautiful Eyes website, wish I had heard it before I had my procedure. Life changing indeed, ruined my eyes!!!

Cancelled OE appt! 16 Jul 2014 12:34 #275

  • DG
  • DG's Avatar
My husband had an appointment today at OE to discuss RLE, until I found your website.
We have now canceled that appointment.

Thank you, we will do a lot more research before making what could be a life changing decision.

INFORMED CONSENT 15 Jul 2014 14:16 #276

  • Unlucky
  • Unlucky's Avatar
American surgeon Dr Mark Packer talking about cataract surgery!

"I think that the most important factor is informed consent so that patients know what they're getting into," he said. "If a patient is willing to take a chance, my experience has been sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.”

Operative words - "INFORMED CONSENT"!

If we were honestly INFORMED how many people would give CONSENT for any unnecessary eye surgery?!

Not me :blink:

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) 13 Jul 2014 22:11 #277

  • Dazzled
  • Dazzled's Avatar
Mr Starburst, I am in total agreement with you on this.

Lorraine perfectly illustrates the urgent need for government intervention to collect and analyse patient outcomes. I really hope that the "My Beautiful Eyes" Campaign succeeds in this.

Just how many patients undergoing 'clear lens replacement' (RLE) have problems? With non disclosure clauses insisted upon by Optical Express we will never know!

Even those fortunate enough to have initial success can go on to develop problems later. Transparency of long term outcomes is needed. Lens replacement for cataracts Is very different to lens replacement to lose glasses for patients without cataracts.

How many patients develop vitreous problems (or retinal detachment) after clear lens replacement, and need yag laser for capsular opacity, secondary cataracts?

We will never know until all outcomes have to be reported centrally. This is what has to happen.

My problems after RLE treatment at Optical Express 13 Jul 2014 13:33 #278

  • Lorraine
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Last year my husband convinced me to get my eyes treated at Optical Express as two of our friends were having it done. At the time I was wearing two different prescriptions, one for close up work, and the other for watching TV, but my distance was getting worse and eventually I would need varifocals. I have a ‘lazy' right eye (amblyopia) and have worn glasses since I was six years old.

At the consultation I was advised that laser treatment wasn't an option but replacement lenses would be OK (RLE). I agreed, paid my deposit and went to London to see Dr Jan Venter. I went through all the tests and was told that I would have monofocal lenses.

I had them done a week apart, my right eye first and then the left. I managed with only the ‘lazy' right eye with the help of my husband until I could uncover the left eye.

Unfortunately for me the surgery was not a success because my sight did the opposite of what it should have! My close vision was absolutely fabulous, being able to read first thing in the morning without glasses was great, but my distance vision ended after about 5 feet.

OE finally gave me a pair of glasses for distance to help me for 6 months, until March this year when I had enhancement Intralase Lasik (enhancement - Unilateral) on my left eye to correct things. It was thought that it wouldn't be worth if for the lazy eye as I couldn't see out of it properly anyway.

My near vision has gone and now I can see distance, which varies from day to day!

Alas, from the very beginning I have seen black circles, I look out of them and they are there all the time, unless wear sunglasses. I can see both sides of them (peripherally), and they move in and out when my eyes blink to focus. I get sparkles on the outer edge of the black line, which makes me think I can see something out of the corner of my eye but when I look there is nothing there. I would liken it to looking through a kaleidoscope. I cannot scan anything fast, so have to read slowly.

Unless I am asleep, I also have the feeling of something alien in my eyes, like I'm blinking over mounds. They’re constant and as the day progresses they feel worse.

My eyes get dry so I am regularly needing to apply drops. I didn't sign up for any of this but when I have mentioned all these symptoms to the optoms at my check ups they tell me that I must be extra sensitive - and the black circles are permanent.

I hate my eyes.

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) 11 Jul 2014 08:51 #279

  • Mr Starburst
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I believe it should actually be illegal to perform RLE on eyes that don't have cataracts. One USA surgeon says he could in no way justify performing this type of surgery just so the person could throw away a $10 pair of reading glasses !

Dr Andre Oberholster told me I'm going blind! 10 Jul 2014 20:40 #280

  • Polly
  • Polly's Avatar
This has been seriously bad.

In December 2013 following an extensive pressurised sales pitch by Optical Express, and tests which said I was suitable, I underwent lens replacement (RLE) at the Bridgewater Hospital, performed by Dr Andre Oberholster.

The operation was not a success. Andre didn’t know what was wrong so sent me to Mr Michael Lavin in Manchester. Lavin told me I have a serious condition called Stargardt's Disease (Fundus Flavimaculatus).

Presumably Andre didn't read my notes because in March 2014 he sent me to Dr Jan Venter in London for an explant.

My eyesight has been appalling since the original operation, but since the lens replacement surgery I can no longer function independently, go out on my own, see in the dark, drive, read, etc... due to the significant deterioration in my eyesight.

I am about to lose my job due to my prolonged absence from work.

Still suffering problems after the explant I saw Andre again in May, who then commented on Mike Lavin’s report and told me quite bluntly that I am going blind.

Strangely, this genetic disease has suddenly materialised, which Andre advised me was the cause of my (now) appalling eyesight and has nothing to do with him or RLE surgery. His optometrist assistant suggested I contact the RNIB.

I left in complete shock.

At a further appointment in June Andre categorically denied he'd ever said that I was going blind!

Optical Express are 'kindly' funding an initial consultation with an independent gene specialist to investigate further, but told me after that I will have to rely on the NHS. They have also 'generously' agreed to suspend payment to Hitachi for three months after which they will reinstate collection of payment.

That’s presuming I still have an income!

I have gone through hell since this whole thing began and it's not over yet!

I now know that RLE surgery is for the treatment of cataracts, which I didn't have!