OAPs across the UK are taking legal action against an American manufacturer after faulty lenses used in cataract surgery left them almost blind. A number of patients have asked North West law firm Birchall Blackburn to fight for compensation on their behalf, because the artificial lenses implanted into their eyes during cataract surgery have turned cloudy. At least 7 hospital Trusts throughout Britain appear to have used the defective lenses.
The firm already represents 171 patients worldwide who have been affected by the same problem, although the lenses in that case were from a completely different supplier. Duncan Stackhouse, senior litigation executive at Birchall Blackburn said, “when we were asked to represent these patients, we assumed that they had received the same brand of lens as our existing clients. But it would seem that more than one brand of lens implant has been affected by the same problem and there are undoubtedly a large number of people whose eyesight has suffered as a result of this further defective product.”
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye and the only effective treatment is an operation to remove the cloudy lens, replacing it with an artificial lens known as an ‘intraocular lens implant’. Some of these artificial lenses became contaminated with impurities from the packaging in which they were contained and, when the lenses were inserted into some patients’ eyes, they turned cloudy, as if another cataract had developed. In many cases, the patient will have been required to undergo further, more-complicated surgery to have the defective lens implant removed and replaced with a further implant. However, this remedial surgery may not be appropriate because of the age of the patient and the risks involved and the patients are then left with poor vision for the rest of their lives.
The claims are being pursued in America because the manufacturers of the faulty lenses are based in Florida. Mr Stackhouse has already instructed American lawyers to represent his clients and the lawyers have agreed to act on a ‘no win-no fee’ basis. Unlike in Britain, compensation claims in the US courts are often decided by juries who have a reputation for making generous awards. Mr Stackhouse added, “there is absolutely no criticism of the surgeons or hospitals involved, as they had no way of telling that the lens implants were defective.”