Eyecare2020, held at the Glasgow Hilton, was aimed at optometrists and dispensing opticians, but I was told that Optical Express would be exhibiting, to promote LipiFlow sales, and to take advantage of the opportunity to recruit staff, and meet with opticians, offering referral fees to steer their patients to OE for refractive eye surgery (allegedly £500 per patient).
Anxious to keep a possible OERML intervention quiet, in early December I advertised on the MBEF closed Fb group for volunteers willing to attend a low key demo in Glasgow…
Last Sunday, wearing OERML T-shirts hidden under jackets, and armed with flyers printed for the occasion, we planned for the protesters to gatecrash a lecture on MGD, hosted by Tweedledum (aka Stephen Hannan) and his colleague Jill Orr, in association with Johnson & Johnson - how many of you remember when the J&J name was comfortably synonymous with baby care products?*
Protesters** milled around incognito for an hour and a half, until Billy sat down at the OE desk for a free eye check. (He successfully sued David Teenan and Optical Express and agreed an out of court settlement in 2019.)
Examining him for the cause of his dry eyes, the scans clearly showed damage under his eyelids, and the OE optom told him that this was due to wearing contact lenses.
Billy replied that this was impossible as he’d never worn CLs in his life, but could it be due to laser eye surgery?
‘Oh yes!’ she said, that would be why - horrified when he told her that it was OE who had operated, not because she doesn’t know about the high numbers of irreparably damaged patients, but because Billy was being loud enough for visitors to easily overhear!
He asked her why this isn’t covered by OE’s aftercare, and she curtly replied, ‘Because it’s NOT!'
Tweedles wasn’t at the MGD lecture, but was serendipitously found at the OE stand, at which point some of the protesters shed their coats and approached him… I'm told his expression was priceless when he saw them, his face turning chalk white!
Mrs A told Tweedles, 'I don't know how you manage to sleep at night knowing all the damage you do to patients!’.
He blatantly lied, replying that OE don't have any damaged patients!
‘Really?’, she said, 'I think you'll find that there're thousands of patients with irreversible eye damage’, adding, 'Would you let David Teenan near your son or daughter?’
Tweedles refused to answer, standing there stony faced.
The tall woman in black, presumably an Eyecare2020 representative, who placed herself in front of the cowardly Tweedles, asked the protesters to please leave, because, 'this is our seminar, not Optical Express’’.
Well perhaps they’ll think twice before letting OE in again!
Protesters who'd been spotted were finally escorted out by the hotel’s security officers, who told them they were right to publicise this scandal, while optoms and others also congratulated them as they went!
Meanwhile, a few undetected campaigners managed to spread more flyers around the show - even leaving a few OERML business cards on Tweedles’ desk!
This attachment is hidden for guests. Please log in or register to see it.
All in all a successful wee demo, and a total embarrassment for Optical Express
*J&J now own the LipiFlow System, hence why OE charge far less than any other provider, but unsurprisingly have no idea how to use the product satisfactorily!
To anyone reading here who is planning to give laser or lens exchange as a gift to a loved one tomorrow, please do some more research - beyond the glossy and misleading ads
Because over the years I have spoken with too many well intentioned partners and parents who paid for refractive eye surgery as a xmas or 21st birthday gift, subsequently racked with guilt when the recipient was left with irreparable damage as a result.
For those who heed my warning, if you’ve paid in advance for surgery, be it a deposit or the full amount, but the person hasn’t yet had a consultation, no matter what you’re told, you CAN get your money refunded.
And whatever you’re doing tomorrow, I hope you have a good time, unlike one of my clients who contacted me earlier telling me he was very concerned about problems that had recently developed in his left eye, but said he’d wait until January to get it checked at Moorfields Eye Hospital - where he’d had an explant following problems after lens exchange surgery at Optical Express.
I advised him not to wait but to go to A&E at Moorfields immediately...
Three hours later he called to tell me that he’d been diagnosed with a retinal detachment and is booked in for surgery at 7.30am tomorrow!
I was at the clinic for more than four hours, undergoing countless different eye tests (plus a few extra to provide data for his corneal neuropathy research programme).
On this occasion I’m breaking from tradition, and will not be publishing details of Dr Hamrah’s answers to my questions about risky and unregulated refractive eye surgery, as I agreed our conversation was off the record!
Suffice to say, Dr Hamrah is not only committed to his research (importantly not a refractive surgeon so without related financial interests), but he actively helps many patients suffering pain after unregulated refractive eye surgery.
I can however mention that I took the opportunity to discuss Greg Brady, who is suffering a number of very serious problems, that no specialist in the UK has yet managed to diagnose, or provide any significant pain relief.
Greg suffers with persistent debilitating pain, and off the scale photophobia, following PRK surgery in December 2016 at AccuVision - The Eye Clinic in Fulham.
Going by what I'd told him, Dr Hamrah agreed that Greg most likely has extreme corneal neuralgia.
On the positive side, he said that he had successfully treated a few people as badly damaged as this, and he also gave me the name of a specialist in the UK who might be able to help.
I was pleased to be able to relay this welcome news to Greg, and his partner Catherine Froud, both of whom are suffering with depression and undergoing counselling as a result of Greg’s devastating eye surgery.
Whilst waiting for my confocal microscopy scans, seated in a small area, I overheard two people talking about the Corneal Neuralgia Patients Facebook group. I introduced myself, and suddenly there were at least six people exchanging information about their problems resulting from laser eye surgery!
Like those I met, many people regularly travel to Boston from all over America to be treated by Dr Hamrah, from Canada too!
Unfortunately, there is no NHS equivalent in America, and the majority of patients have to fund any treatment themselves, or depend on medical insurance to cover their costs - but for a limited time, like Diana Wozniak (who committed suicide in May), left facing an unbearable future with her pain relief meds stopped when her insurers withdrew funding.
Here are a few links related to Dr Hamrah’s work, but if you google his name you’ll find plenty more.
'Neuropathic dry eye can be due to diverse ocular conditions (e.g., DED, infectious/herpetic keratitis, radiation keratopathy), as well as surgical interventions (e.g., cataract and refractive surgery). Systemic conditions, such as fibromyalgia and Sjögren’s disease, also cause neuropathic dry eye. Symptoms can be potentiated by comorbidities like anxiety and depression.' (Page 2)
'In this case, tear replacement/conservation therapies alone would have been futile, leading to perceived treatment failure. Instead, the identification of corneal nerve damage caused by the refractive procedures led to effective and long-standing symptomatic control with AST.’ (Page 3)
An article I'm sure you'll be interested to read, and perhaps comment on - especially when you see the names of the authors
I was amused by this para in the introduction: ' Prior to elective surgery, patients need to be adequately informed of the benefits and inherent risks of the proposed treatment, possible outcomes, as well as surgical and nonsurgical alternatives to the recommended procedure.1,2 As the number of procedures and their degree of technical complexity grow, delivering the correct information to the patient is becoming increasingly difficult. On one hand, patients should be informed in detail about their surgical procedure; on the other hand, overloading patients with too much technical/medical information may have unintended negative effects by confusing patients, reducing their ability to retain information, and impairing their ability to provide an informed decision.1–3'
After reading various articles. It seems I've been quite lucky but I'll tell you my brush with Optical Express.
After seeing a typical ad, I arranged and went for a review / first consultation with Optical Express in Liverpool.
They ran various tests and asked about my eyes. I have had an issue, for over a year I guess, which I described to both representatives, which was a coloured semi circle appearing at the top of my vision in my left eye every now and again and floaters. They checked my eyes and said everything is fine. They gave me costs for lens replacement which I agree to and paid a deposit. I went for more tests in Manchester and then on the day of surgery, thankfully the surgeon said he was not happy to go ahead as it looked like I had a partial detached retina in my left eye.
I went to A&E that day and a day later, they had carried out laser surgery on my right eye to repair a hole in my retina and a cryo buckle on my left as if had partially detached.
I do feel lucky that the surgeon*(who was not employed by Optical Express - I assume sub-contracted to carry out surgery) decided not to proceed but struggle to get my head around the clear fact that Optical Express are sales driven and the "specialists" in Liverpool are either not competent enough to identify problems such as mine or simply ignore them in order to get a sales bonus (which a lady in customer service did confirm they normally get if surgery goes ahead).
On another day, the decision to proceed may have been made and I'm sure a full detachment will eventually have occurred, potentially causing blindness or near blindness in my left eye.
Lucky, lucky me.
By the way, I still haven't got my deposit back.... apparently it could be up to 6 weeks. *Asheet Desai
Having to wear glasses all my adult life and now bi focals I was getting continuously fed up with carrying...prescription glasses....non prescription sunglassess...prescription sun glasses....contact lenses every where with me....especially when travelling.
I met a lady who had lens surgery through Optical Express and said what a success it as. I decided this would be perfect for me, however, i always like to do my own research.
I found another "friend of a friend" who had had the procedure, but her story did not bode so well for the first six months and then it settled down. I started to look at making an appointment for Milton Keynes Optical Express... luckily I am out of the country till next week so didn't get anything in the diary.
Having put in "lens replacement failure" into google I came across Sasha's site. I was horrified to learn this industry is not regulated...how can this be so???
After reading many accounts on OERML Facebook and this forum I would not proceed now under any circumstances. I'd rather wear glasses and pack an extra bag to accommodate my glasses than give money to an industry that seems to be so corrupt.
Well done Sasha for protecting people like me and giving me the information the industry clearly doesn't want me to see!
I will check for the English equivalent and publish details when I find it...