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Tuesday, 11 February, 2003, 08:15 GMT
'I had to leave my job after eye surgery'
Eye
Some say surgery made their vision worse
A consumer watchdog has warned patients are not being told about the potential risks of laser eye surgery.

Health Which says some complications, deemed "minor" by doctors, can severely affect people's lives.


Jon Whelan says he was forced to leave his job in a picture library because his sight deteriorated so much following laser surgery.

Health Which reports that, over the following year, complications made his sight so bad that he cannot drive at night or read in dim light.

The day after his surgery, Jon, 30, said he had an "even blurring" across his eyes, his peripheral vision was blurred, his night vision had deteriorated severely, and he had lost his awareness of depth.

He said that following the operation, staff said it had been a success.

The problems affected me in ways I would never have anticipated

Jon Whelan
"They kept saying they thought the surgery was a success - I didn't."

He admits he was told he was a high-risk patient but was told he could receive a treatment which could solve potential complications.

He was given that treatment in January last year.

Jon says his sight has improved during the day, but it is still bad in the evening - and he still cannot drive at night.

He says his eyesight is now worse than it was before he had his first operation.

"The problems affected me in ways I would never have anticipated."

He went to America for further treatment, and has been given special hard contact lenses which he now has to rely on.

Eye chart

Rebecca Petris has campaigned on behalf of people who have experienced complications from laser surgery in the UK and US.

After her laser eye surgery she suffers from blurred vision and dry eye syndrome.

Rebecca Petris
Rebecca Petris says her sight problems affect all aspects of her life
She told BBC News: "It affects everything from big things to little mundane things.

"I can't drive anymore, so I'm reliant on public transport.

"Sometimes it's hard to find my way around. I can't recognise people more than 10 feet away."

She said opticians and ophthalmologists often fail to recognise that "minor" complications can have huge practical implications on people's lives.

But she says that because she can still read an eye chart, her problem is not considered "significant".

See also:

31 Jan 03 | Health
05 Jun 00 | Health
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