All set for winter, Leigh Stace rocking his new black hoodie* outside the Ultralase|Optimax clinic in Harley Street yesterday
Raising awareness, it is so gratifying when people who’ve been considering surgery assure us that they’ll be sticking with their glasses/contact lenses after being told the real risks of unregulated refractive surgery - even more so when people attending initial consultations come out of the clinic to tell us they won't be going ahead, having asked the right questions after being fully informed on their way in!
No-one even realises the industry is unregulated, most people totally shocked when we tell them.
The Harley Street clinic location is perfect for demos, as it's en route from Oxford Circus to Optegra and Optical Express clinics, so we are able to inform their patients too (prospective and damaged)!
The Optimax Finchley Road clinic has been very quiet of late, and at the weekly demo last week, out of three people attending post op appointments, one was very unhappy with the results of laser surgery a few months ago, whilst a fourth person, after talking with us at length, and hearing about Leigh’s experience, decided not to even bother going in for his RLE consultation.
When journalist Marcello Mega initially approached Optimax boss Russell Ambrose about the ICL problems, he asked him would it not have been better to have advertised in the national press, to alert Optimax customers that they were walking around with a possible time bomb in their eyes.
Russell responded in an email:
'Earlier this year I conducted a national press advertising campaign for our services with 8 full page adverts over 4 well known titles. We received only 15 enquiries... Direct response advertising no longer works. Your suggestion of a national advert campaign is not at all practical... We provide a very personal service and find old patients in a personal and targeted way which we know works.’
Advertising for customers surely cannot be compared to publishing a warning that people with these lenses need urgent attention else they could go blind! And his 'personal service' is allegedly little more than making phone calls to people during weekends and evenings.
He also wrote: 'Similarly we are concerned that you [journalist] should not cause a flood of unnecessary of calls from worried patients to the NHS. There are millions of cataract in the UK and a lot other ICL lens patients who are not remotely at risk from iris clip lenses. How would they know which lenses they have in their eyes?’
Firstly, he has never been concerned about the thousands of his damaged customers (me included) forced to turn to the NHS for aftercare, whilst his letters to these ICL patients at risk state: 'should you need a corneal graft you will have to have it done in the NHS'. (Read post May 11, 2021 at 2:32 pm:
And secondly, they should have been told which lenses they had according to this claim: 'All patients received our consent form and literature well in advance of surgery, posted to their home and given to them again on consultation. There were consulted by an optician and the treating surgeon who explained everything to them in depth.’
There are a number of ICL recipients now in litigation with Optimax, who claim they were definitely NOT advised of the potential issues, or of the need for regular ECC checks. And it will be for Optimax to prove otherwise.
Same email from Russell to Marcello Mega: 'You refer to an activist who encourages patients to go elsewhere for care, this is has resulted in a few patients not taking our advice to have their lenses removed and thereby putting themselves more at risk by delaying. We are the experts in this field and no other organisation has done as many iris clip lens implants than us, by far. It would be much better to encourage patients to come back to us than disturb them by saying we are cowboys, as the activist says. Please do you due diligence on this person. This activist has her own agenda will use any technique to pressure me personally and her motives are not always in the best interests of the patients and this is the reason for my accusations of agenda, I know what she is like.’
Russell won't name the ‘activist’, because when I (Sasha Rodoy) send an SAR he has to disclose all data that mentions me, just like Optical Express staff, who, I’ve been told, are not allowed to name me in emails for the same reason.
Whilst I do not deny that I despise this man, ultimately responsible for ruining my beautiful eyes and wrecking my quality of life, persuading me to sign a Settlement Agreement (without legal action) based on lies he told me throughout 40 hrs of (recorded) meetings from 2011 to 2012, our ongoing battle for the last 10 years has no bearing on the interests of any MBEF clients I advise.
His interests however are unarguably financial, his sole reason for not publicly advertising this crisis, to avoid negative publicity and save money!
Russell even expected one woman who contacted me for advice to fly to London from Belfast, at her own cost, to have the lenses removed, stay 2 nights in a hotel (he generously offered to pay for one night), then fly back to Belfast unable to see!
I leave you to decide whether or not I acted 'in the best interests of the patient’.
Meanwhile, there are untold numbers of people out there who are still at risk of losing their sight due to Russell’s refusal to advertise a patient recall, and I beg you to share these posts in the hope that at least one of them might be helped.
Photo courtesy of Optimax Ruined My Life owner Leigh Stace, outside Optimax Finchley Road clinic on 24 June 2021, when Russell came out to chat with weekly demonstrators.
And whilst I appreciate that appearances can also be deceptive, he really wasn’t wearing old PJs under his jacket!
Before surgery I had excellent distance vision but needed glasses for reading, computer, close up work etc..
I decided to have lens replacement surgery on both eyes, which made my sight absolutely awful. I then paid extra to Optimax for YAG laser on both eyes, then had Lasek to my right eye only.
Three years later, although I don't need glasses for reading anymore, my distance vision is terrible and and very blurred.
I have out of focus patches that float about my eyes and move when I move my eyes.
I have not driven since the first operation as I can't see the road signs well enough until they are so close that it is too late to take any necessary action.
Any time day or night when reduced visibility means drivers have their vehicle lights on is a nightmare as the halos are so bright and I have to look down to the floor to avoid the glare..
Each morning I have to engage my brain and stop myself just opening my eyes, as I previously had done for over 60 years, as now my eyes are so dry and feel like the eyelid is stuck to the eyeball, especially my right eye which is worse. I have to physically and gently ease my eyes open using my finger, otherwise it feels very painful, like ripping a plaster off.
Before surgery my eyes used to water if it was cold or windy, and I told Optimax this, I hadn't a clue it was something very inappropriately named Dry Eye, but the symptoms I described to them should have been recognisable as they’re supposed to be the experts!
My Dry Eye is now very much worse and I wear clear safety glasses when I go out running if it's cold or windy, and sunglasses if it's sunny otherwise I wouldn't be able to carry on with this activity as it's almost impossible to run whilst wiping your eyes, blowing your nose, and seeing where you are going. I have had to stop clay pigeon shooting as my distance vision is so poor, sold all my equipment, specialist clothing and my gun is at present in a gun shop awaiting a buyer.
Having lens replacement has ruined my life and made me feel so upset as the money I used was left to me by my Mum who very sadly died.
Lens replacement at Optimax was, by far, the worst decision of my life, and I will be reminded of this every single day I open my eyes.
Besides putting a couple of lines on his new LinkedIn page - presumably believing that Optimax customers know who he is, and likely to check out his page - owner Russell Ambrose could've/should’ve contacted all UK optical magazines and asked them to publish this important information, for the attention of optoms and opticians to share with their patients who might have these ICLs.
But not wanting to risk bad publicity for Optimax (+sister company Ultralase), he refused to put his head above the parapet, leaving it to My Beautiful Eyes Foundation members to alert the public
Following the Daily Mail article last month,* the story was given to Optician, who, after apparently trying to contact Russell for comment, published half a column in the magazine last week.
Unfortunately however, a schoolboy error in rewording the plagiarised content from the Daily Mail has made this nonsensical: 'If the endothelial cell count drops too low, a corneal transplant is no longer possible.’
I raised a complaint with Optimax earlier this year following Refractive Lens Exchange surgery (lens replacement) in both eyes less than a year ago.
Prior to surgery I only wore glasses for distance (e.g. driving) and had excellent reading and near vision. However, following the procedures my reading and near vision in both eyes were adversely affected.
Pre surgery the Optimax Consultant, Mr Manzar Saeed, told me the lenses they intended to use would provide me a 9.5 out of 10 vision compared to what I was achieving with my distance glasses, with ‘excellent reading and near vision’, and this was the outcome I was expecting but didn’t get.
At my first aftercare appointment, when I highlighted the issues with my reading & near vision the Optometrist advised this was due to my brain still needing to adjust to see black & white through the lenses.
At the next appointment the Optometrist said my vision had worsened further and there was cloudiness on the lens, which would need YAG laser to clear it. I was surprised when they told me I would have to pay an extra £790 for this procedure as I thought that all aftercare was included in the original cost, but their advertised claim of ‘Lifetime Aftercare’ is not what it suggests.
As I couldn’t afford this additional cost they told me I could have it done on the NHS, and provided a referral letter.
After YAG laser on the first eye I experienced no improvement to my vision.
I had a follow up appointment with the NHS Consultant, who advised that although the procedure had been successful, the issues with my vision were due to a refractive error with the lens. In view of this he advised there was no point having the YAG laser on my second eye as the outcome would be the same.
He also said that Optimax should not be telling patients they will have excellent vision following the RLE procedure, as I was told in my consultation before agreeing to proceed.
Optimax has since confirmed that once YAG has been carried out it makes it more difficult to explant problem lenses, which Optimax did not tell me before agreeing to have the YAG, so this may restrict any chances of getting my vision improved.
In view of this I raised a formal complaint with Optimax in May, and was disappointed that the Consultant, Mr Manzar Saeed, could not see me until over 2 months later.
When we finally met, he said my eyesight was ‘perfect’, although conceded that it was only an 8 out of 10, and not the outcome I had expected when I reminded him that it was he who said I would have excellent reading and near vision as a result of the procedures. He said there may be some things they could tweak to try to improve my vision and would refer my details to their Head Optometrist.
Initially Mr Manzar Saeed said the solution was to wear glasses or contact lenses, which I told him was not an acceptable solution. Not only would I have to wear glasses more frequently than before I had surgery, but the whole point of undergoing Lens surgery was to not to have to wear glasses at all.
Following this Optimax advised me to trial a contact lens in one eye with the possibility of laser surgery for monovision, making my non dominant eye long sighted, for near vision.
I am obviously very unhappy with this situation and waiting to hear what they suggest next.
“Sasha Rodoy, of My Beautiful Eyes Foundation, which supports patients who have had poor outcomes from refractive eye surgery, said: ‘I am gravely concerned about the patients Optimax has been unable to contact... they may be walking around with a potential time bomb in their eyes.’”
I've had the same problem after implants with Prof Dr Jan Venter at Optimax in 2005... after 16 years they sent me a letter in March 2021 for a cell count... what the hell I thought!!
So I went and they said my left eye had a 900 count which is low and the lens needed to be extracted... so after much anxiety and fear I had it taken out by Dr llango yesterday... obviously I'll have to wait for the eye to heal and then wear a contact lens for the rest of my life... couldn't believe they left it 16 years without so much as a check up...!!
If you want to discuss this or talk about the next step forward as hardly anyone I know has had this procedure!! my number is [edited]
I had lasik in 2001 at Optimax performed by Manek Patel and only found out in 2019 that I shouldn’t have had it done as my corneas were too thin.
I had to start wearing glasses again within two years of the surgery, and am on annual recall with my local optician, so that’s new glasses every year costing at least £200. The high prescription lenses have to be greatly thinned to fit the frames.
When I was eventually referred to the Western Eye Hospital in London in 2019, they said I shouldn’t have had laser eye surgery as my eyes were not suitable.
Glasses are mostly useless for me now as I can’t see out of my left eye with them no matter how high the prescription, currently minus 14 dioptres, but I still need to wear them when I can't tolerate contact lenses because my eyes get so dry. I have cornea ectasia, and my cornea in my left eye is so thin it’s not suitable for cross-linking and continues to deteriorate.
I get floaters, dry eyes, and balance issues that I guess is caused by the difference in vision in both eyes. The dry eyes are the worse, causing my contact lenses to hurt if I wear too long.
The funny thing is back in 2001 Optimax advertised the reason you would get Lasik vs PRK/Lasek was based on your prescription, and said my prescription was too high for PRK. Yet now I’m told PRK/Lasek is more suitable for thinner corneas. I think they just wanted more money as Lasik was the more expensive treatment.
I also recall during the surgery, after the surgeon had done the right eye, the nurse asked should she change the setting for the left eye, but he said “no leave it”. So he basically screwed up my eye with negligence.
I never went back to complain as I just assumed I was one of the unlucky ones it hadn’t worked for. I also didn’t want a repeat surgery as I’d had pain afterward that was almost like when the dentist hits a nerve, except it was in my eye and would shoot through me. Either way I wish I’d never got it done.
Back then it cost £200 for toric contact lenses, and now I’d be able to get daily disposables, but instead I’m stuck with uncomfortable eyes, bad balance and floaters. I hate wearing my contacts because of the dry eyes, but without them I can’t see further than my arm.
I did recommend it to a friend at the time and he thank god has had no problems, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend laser surgery to anyone now, after all the years I’ve had battling to be heard when I say that I cannot see ☹️