Glaucoma missed diagnosis

Mrs P was experiencing intermittent headaches and visited the opticians for a routine eye test.

At the appointment, she was found to have deteriorated vision. However, she wasn’t questioned about her family medical history.

Mrs P went on to visit her GP complaining of pain behind her right eye. Her GP examined her eyes and advised her to have another eye test if the pain persisted.
Due to continued and more frequent pain, Mrs P returned to the opticians. During this second appointment she informed the optician that she was getting headaches and pain behind her right eye. She also explained that she was struggling with the vision in her right eye. At this stage, she was told that her left eye was OK but the vision in the right eye had deteriorated; possibly due to keratoconus (a condition which impairs the ability to focus correctly). Spectacles were prescribed, but yet again, the optician still did not enquire about Mrs P’s family medical history.

Following appointments with her GP, due to ongoing pain and poor vision, the client made the decision to visit a different optician. At this appointment, she was advised that her eyes required further examination at hospital. Tests were conducted and Mrs P was diagnosed with glaucoma.

By this point, Mrs P required trabeculectomy drainage to relieve pressure in the eye and sadly, her vision had deteriorated further. She was prescribed glaucoma medication for the left eye and a course of steroids and antibiotics for the right.

Should Mrs P’s glaucoma have been diagnosed earlier and treatment received, she may not have suffered the extensive visual field loss in the right eye, which is extending towards central fixation; and she would not be at risk of a profound reduction in her visual acuity. It was, however, noted by the expert that there was considerable risk that the reduction was likely even with prompt treatment. Prognosis was also better than initially feared.

The case settled by negotiation in which payment of damages was agreed.