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Loss of vision and ‘faulty’ lenses prompt claims against top eye clinic
5 January 2015
An inquiry is underway after doctors complain in light corrective eye lenses which have caused loss of vision.
Regulators within the booming corrective eye surgery industry announced they were investigating claims a new artificial eye lens implant had caused serious loss of visions. The lenses were implanted into the eyes of thousands in what is a multibillion-pound industry. The industry has been fuelled by excessive market campaigns promising interest-free credit on bills given the often high cost of the corrective procedure (often over £3,000 per eye).
The matter was brought to the attention of officials after a number of concerned surgeons provided testimony to them regarding patients who had complained of defective vision. The industry is currently experiencing heightened levels of demand with approximately 120,000 people undergoing corrective eye surgery every year. The procedure is either completed via laser or, often in the case of the over-50s, through the replacement of their natural lenses through surgery.
Number of complaints about Mplus X lens rise as alarm raised
The lens in question is the Mplus X lens manufactured by a German company called Oculentis. It is believed that in 2014 the lens was fitted into the eyes of thousands after the lens was introduced into the UK last January.
The largest ophthalmic centre in Europe, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Trust, submitted an official report about the lens after four of its six patients who had had the implant reported loss of quality in their vision.
The market leader in corrective eye surgery is Optical Express-highlighted in a major legal action against them last year-and it was a surgeon who worked for them who claimed that he raised the alarm about the performance of the Mplus X lens in the UK earlier in 2014 about it. George Settas was working for Optical Express at the time until December and had been a surgeon there for four years.
Settas “I told them, on more than one occasion, that I had concerns regarding the performance of the Mplus X lens, as I felt that there were a lot more patients experiencing quality of vision problems with this lens than other lenses. Explanting – ie removing – such a lens is not an easy procedure at all. Concerned by what I felt was an increase in the number of explants with the Mplus X lens, I raised the issue within Optical Express. In the end I had to file a report with the appropriate regulatory authority.”
"I raised the issue within Optical Express."
He added: “The patients were complaining that they couldn’t see clearly, usually at distance. Most were saying that they could read but that they could not see properly beyond their arm’s length, which was a bit surprising. You would not expect people to have a problem at that distance.”
Settas further added that Optical Express only removed stocks of the Mplus X lenses from its clinic in late November 2014, even though he raised concerns in September. With such a large number of members of the public electing to undergo corrective eye treatment on a yearly basis, this window of time may mean that claims are possible for those whose vision has been adversely impacted by the lens.
While Optical Express confirmed Settas did express concerns about quality of vision problems with the Mplus X lens they maintained that their own scientific study of outcomes suggested there was no cause for concern.
Optical Express’s clinical services director, Stephen Hannan said that the withdrawal of lenses had nothing to do with the concerns raised and that banks of the lens continued to remain in clinics. Hannan said the reason for discontinuing stock was because the older model of lens had similar outcomes to the newer criticised Mplus X version. He said “The Mplus X lens has excellent ocular outcomes for patients. Our experience and detailed assessment of these ocular outcomes confirms this to be the case.”
Australian distributors rejected the Oculentis eye lens but UK distributors did not
Interestingly while being given the right to distribute the lens in the UK, its Australian distributor had greater reservations. In fact, the chief executive at Oculentis-Ben Wanders-confirmed that the distributor in Australia had decided “this is not a lens for the Australian people” after complaints in that country from surgeons in Australia.
The complaints raised may well now be part of a class action as it has emerged that many complainants who have raised concern about their own damage to vision had incidentally been fitted with the criticised Mplus X lens.
Over the weekend lawyers who represented a 28-year old-woman to whom Optical Express was ordered to pay £500,000 in damages in September after her eyes were left so damaged by laser eye surgery that she has to wear sunglasses during the day said 45 complainants against Oculentis had contacted them since the case, and that some had been fitted with the Mplus X lens, which may form part of a class action. The case of 28 year old Stephanie Holloway originated through 5R1 Claims who initially handled the claim and who now work exclusively with Mistreatment.com
Nick Grant, a partner at Devonshires solicitors and who works closely with Mistreatment.com, said: “I think there will be further individuals seeking to make a claim against Optical Express and expect that, based on the number of claims coming in, Devonshires will be bringing a class action against Optical Express in the near future on this Mplus X lens issue. Devonshires are currently obtaining copies of clients’ medical records before reviewing and instructing an expert to prepare a report. My advice is that anyone who thinks they may have been given an Mplus X lens and had a disappointing outcome should seek legal advice.”
A spokesman for the Medical Health Regulatory Authority said: “We are currently investigating and will take action if necessary.”
Have you been given an Mplus X lens and are experiencing vision problems?
If you have undergone corrective eye treatment and you are aware that a Mplus X lens was used and have since experienced a disappointing outcome you can speak to Mistreatment.com who can assist you in accessing patient justice and in speaking to our highly skilled and experienced eye treatment negligence lawyers.
Even if you are not aware the Mplus X lenses were used but nonetheless have undergone corrective eye treatment and something has gone wrong, Mistreatment.com may be able to assist you in finding answers and exploring your patient right options.