Case in which woman claimed she was left 'functionally blind' by laser eye surgery adjourned on consent

By Ann O'Loughlin

AN action by a young woman alleging she is "essentially functionally blind" as a result of undergoing laser eye surgery which was unsuitable for her has been adjourned on consent at the High Court.

The adjournment today followed day long settlement talks between the sides but no details of the basis for adjournment were provided.

In proceedings which opened before Mr Justice Kevin Cross on Tuesday, Sarah Roche (33) sued Frank Lavery, a consultant ophthalmic surgeon, of Ailesbury Drive, Dublin 4, and DCM Laser Clinic Ltd, trading as Optical Express, with registered offices at Wellington Road, Dublin 4.

Sarah Roche leaving the Four Courts during her High Court action. Pic: Collins Courts

A project officer now living in Australia, she was living at Meadow Grove Estate, Blackrock, Cork, when she underwent the surgery after which she attended a number of post-operative reviews in Cork before leaving Ireland in 2008.

Ms Roche said in evidence she wanted the surgery before she went trekking in South America.

It was claimed, for reasons including she had a thin cornea and a prior refractive history and/or a history of progressive myopia, she was not suitable for the wavefront LASIK surgery performed on her by Mr Lavery at the Optical Express clinic in Dublin on May 7th 2007.

Her counsel Oonagh McCrann SC said Ms Roche should never have been advised to have this particular surgery as a result of which she has been left "essentially functionally blind" except when she can wear complicated contact lenses she can tolerate for a maximum eight hours daily.

Both defendants delivered full defences denying her claims and the case had been expected to last three weeks.

Ms McCrann said Ms Roche, while in Australia, began towards 2012 to notice a deterioration in her eyesight. She was referred to a specialist and diagnosed with Ectasia secondary to Lasik treatment. This was an advanced progressive eye disease, where the cornea gets thinner and bulges.

Having been advised the condition would continue to deteriorate and she required treatment involving collagen cross linking on both eyes, she underwent that and is now in a position where she has vision when she wears a complicated contact lenses system which she can tolerate for about eight hours but otherwise is functionally blind, counsel said.

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